Articles Posted in Maritime Safety

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Lava_Bomb_Hole-1024x794The U.S. Coast Guard and the Hawaii County Police Department continue to investigate an incident in which “lava bombs” showered down on a Kapoho Bay sightseeing vessel, injuring 23 tourists. Officials reported that the lava tour boat was cruising near the erupting Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island when lava bombs began crashing down on the vessel. It has been reported that about 50 lava bombs hit the boat and that one, about the size of a basketball, pierced the metal roof of the vessel, injuring 23 passengers.

Sector Honolulu watchstanders received the initial call from 911 at about 6 a.m. that three crewmembers, as well as three tourists, had been injured in an incident in Kapoho Bay aboard the lava sightseeing vessel Hot Shot. The sightseeing vessel returned to Hilo harbor where emergency medical personnel were waiting to receive the injured. Ten passengers were treated at the scene for cuts and burns, while 13 others were referred to Hilo Medical Center for treatment. Four were sent by ambulance, and one woman in her 20s has been listed in serious condition with burns and a fractured femur.

“Today’s unfortunate event is a good reminder about the risks involved with observing a natural wonder like this one and the reason officials are continuously monitoring the eruption to ensure the public is kept at safe distances on land, in the air and while at sea,” Ross Birch, executive director of the Island of Hawaii Visitors Bureau, said in a statement.

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Coast-Guard-MH-60-JayhawkThanks to the swift efforts of the U.S. Coast Guard and good Samaritan F/V Pacific Pearl, three fishermen in Sitka Sound were rescued this week after their vessel began taking on water.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Juneau received a distress call from the captain of the 33-foot F/V Leona at about 10:30pm. It was reported that the vessel was taking on water and bilge pumps were unable to keep up with the rate of flooding. Watchstanders urgently requested an Air Station Sitka Jayhawk MH-60 be dispatched to the scene.

An emergency dewatering pump was lowered onto the vessel, but the F/V Leona was taking on water too rapidly; the pump could not keep up. The three crewmembers were forced to abandon ship as the vessel began sinking into Sitka Sound. The good Samaritan F/V Pacific Pearl was able to take the three crewmembers aboard then transport them to Sitka.

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Rope_Tiedown-1024x683Commercial fishing vessels must comply with safety regulations established by federal and maritime law. When violations are found during a boarding inspection, a vessel may be issued a violation and possibly a fine. When violations are particularly dangerous to the crew or the environment, they fall into a different category known as “especially hazardous conditions”.  After finding several safety violations and environmental infringements, the U.S. Coast Guard terminated the voyage of the F/V Nushagak Spirit sighting “especially hazardous conditions”.

The vessel was located approximately three miles east of Umnak Island when the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Mellon, a 378-foot high endurance cutter based in Seattle, Washington, conducted the onboard inspection. They found one fishing violation, 14 safety violations, as well as the improper discharge of bilge water. The vessel master admitted to pumping bilge water over the side of the vessel, which is in direct violation of the Clean Water Act. The U.S. Coast Guard sent this vessel back to port. Federal law deemed this vessel “unseaworthy”.

“We perform at-sea safety inspections to ensure mariners are operating in compliance with commercial fishing vessel safety and environmental regulations,” said Capt. John Hollingsworth, 17th District incident management branch chief. “These regulations help ensure the safety of life at sea and protect our marine environment.”

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Coos-BayThe U.S. Coast Guard recently responded to a call from the 36-foot fishing vessel, Lacie Belle, that a crewmember was suffering from seizures. The call came in at 5:25 p.m. and by 5:54 p.m. an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Sector North Bend was on the scene, approximately 10 miles north of Cape Blanco.

The Coast Guard sent a rescue swimmer down to assess the crewmember and determined that the man needed immediate medical attention. A basket was sent down to the fishing vessel and the crewmember was hoisted to the waiting helicopter (watch the heroic video). The crewmember was successfully airlifted to medical personnel at the Bay Area Hospital in Coos Bay, Oregon by 6:28 p.m.

Seizures can happen anytime or any place, but when they occur on a fishing vessel, it is even more important for crewmembers to know how to respond. While there are many types of seizures, most people are familiar with the generalized tonic-clonic seizure, also known as a grand mal seizure, in which a person, falls, shakes, jerks, and cries out. If this happens while at sea, a crewmember must take charge and do the following:

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Everyone wants a culture of safety. Vessel owners want it, maritime workers want it, and their friends and families want it. But what is it and what steps must an organization or vessel owner take to establish it? It doesn’t happen overnight, and it doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It must start at the top, and it must feature consistency, trust, and truth. It is about doing the right thing even when no one is looking.

According to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), a United Nations agency established as the global standard-setting authority for the safety, security and environmental performance of international shipping, safety culture is defined as follows:

“An organization with a ‘safety culture’ is one that gives appropriate priority to safety and realizes that safety has to be managed like all other areas of the business.”

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Ladder-1024x640There are times when a maritime worker must access high areas on a vessel or travel from one deck to another. In these instances, it makes sense that ladders and steps would be employed. If working at sea weren’t already hazardous enough, enter the dangers of ladders, steps, and gangways.

Ladders can be such a hazard, that the CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has developed a Ladder Safety App for workers, employers, and homeowners. The app contains information and tools to prevent extension and step ladder-related fall injuries and deaths. The app is free, and it has been downloaded over 120,000 times. According to the CDC, ladder and step accidents happen for many reasons, but the following are most common:

  • Incorrect extension ladder setup angle
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C-S_System_OverviewApril 6th is National 406 Day. It is easy to remember, as the date (04/06) corresponds to the 406 MHz frequency used by these devices to transmit digital signals to satellites. These beacons are considered by many in the maritime trades to be the best life insurance available. And in some cases, they are legally required by vessel owners. To read more about safety gear, please see our page regarding life rafts, EPIRBs and survival suits. National 406 Day is also a reminder to anyone with a beacon that federal law requires registration to be current.

What exactly is an EPIRB? It is an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon that works by transmitting a signal via satellite that can then be relayed to a rescue coordination center. The device can be automatically activated (for example if the device is under more than 3 meters of water) or manually activated to transmit a distress signal.

Here is a list of 8 tips NOAA recommends when handling your EPIRB:

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Brain_Scan-1024x731The U.S. Coast Guard recently received an alarming call; a 44-year-old male appeared to be suffering a stroke while working on the fishing vessel GOLDEN ALASKA, which was located approximately 60 miles northeast of Cold Bay. Time is of the essence when treating a stroke, but what happens when the victim is out at sea? The U.S. Coast Guard forward deployed assets are crucial for this type of incident, as they are saving precious time getting crewmembers to proper medical services.

However, it is up to crewmembers to recognize stroke symptoms, report them, and get help as quickly as possible. March 12th marks the beginning of National Brain Awareness week, and this case reminds us just how important it is to know the signs of a stroke and what to do if you or a crewmate suffer the same fate. According to The American Stroke Association, stroke is the 5th leading cause of death in our nation, and the leading cause of disability. Someone suffers a stroke every 40 seconds (about 800,000 strokes happen per year).

What is a stroke?

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Coast-Guard-MH-60-JayhawkOnce again, the benefits of having Coast Guard assets forward deployed were realized when a crewmember aboard the F/V Island Enterprise was found unconscious in the freezer compartment of the vessel last week.

Watchstanders at the 17th Coast Guard District command center were contacted on February 16th at approximately 5:30 p.m. by Health Force Partners. The agency is contracted by many vessel owners to provide injury and illness treatment as well as occupational assessments. Watchstanders in turn contacted the Coast Guard duty flight surgeon, who recommended the medevac for the unconscious worker.

A Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew hoisted the 57-year-old man from the vessel then transported him to Cold Bay, then on to Anchorage for emergency medical treatment. This was the sixth reported Coast Guard medevac rescue for the winter fishing season.

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MLB-Cape-Disappointment-300x197The U.S. Coast Guard Sector Columbia River was contacted on Monday morning after a worker was injured while installing a recirculation system aboard the bulk carrier Ergina Luck. The worker fell into the bilge, and it was reported that both his legs and back were injured in the fall and that he was unable to walk. The Ergina Luck was anchored in Astoria at the time of the accident.

The Clatsop County high-angle rescue team was transported from Station Cape Disappointment aboard a 47-foot Motor Life Boat to assist and transport the injured man. The rescue team immobilized the injured worker, then carried him up three sets of stairs before he could be lowered to the crew members aboard the MLB. He was then transported to emergency medical services at the 17th Street Pier in Astoria, Oregon.

The injured man is employed by Degesch America at their Portland, Oregon location. The company specializes in fumigation, degassing, and abatement services for bulk carrier vessels. The incident is under investigation.