The most dangerous job in the world requires proper safety gear, proficient training, quick action during mishaps, and experienced emergency responders at the ready when the need arises. These essentials came together on Tuesday, September 8th to save the life of a fisherman when his 44-foot commercial fishing vessel ran aground then began breaking apart in the 10-foot surf near South Beach State Park, Oregon.
Watchstanders at U.S. Coast Guard Sector North Bend received a mayday call that the lone fisherman, trapped on the south jetty in Newport, was being forced to abandon ship. The 52-foot Motor Lifeboat Victory, a 47-foot Motor Lifeboat, and a ground crew were dispatched from Station Yaquina Bay.
Crew members from Station Yaquina Bay instructed the fisherman to use flares to signal his location. The flares were visible to the Motor Lifeboat as well as an MH-65 Dolphin rescue helicopter that had been deployed. The helicopter was unfortunately forced to turn back due to hazardous weather and poor visibility.
On August 11th, multiple U.S. Coast Guard units received distress calls stating that the F/V ARCTIC FOX II, a 66-foot commercial fishing boat, had begun taking on water. The vessel was located about 85 miles off Cape Flattery, Washington at the time of trouble.
The three crewmembers aboard were getting ready to abandon ship and reported that they were all wearing survival suits. Once on the scene, the U.S. Coast Guard aircrew immediately spotted a lifeboat. One survivor was aboard and hoisted into the helicopter. Tragically, the other two crewmembers did not survive. While the fishermen were all wearing survival suits, it was later reported that the suits were old, in poor repair, and that the seams were cracked. The suits that were meant to save lives, were not watertight.
This tragic accident highlights the need for all vessel owners, masters, and captains to test the functionality of immersion suits stored on their vessels. Under federal law, it is the duty of the person in charge of the vessel to make sure all lifesaving gear is properly maintained and inspected before each voyage. Follow these best practices for proper inspection and care.
It was reported that one crew member became ill and was taken to a hospital while the ship was docked in Bellingham. That crewmember tested positive for COVID-19 and remains in a hospital for treatment after being admitted Friday.
According to a spokesperson for American Seafoods, all crew members were tested for COVID-19 by the University of Washington before boarding the vessel. Only those who tested negative for the virus were allowed to board.
The call reporting the injury came to watchstanders at the U.S Coast Guard Sector North Bend at 3:42 p.m. Monday, November 18th. The vessel was located about 34 miles west of Newport, Oregon at the time of the incident. As further communication took place between the vessel and Coast Guard personnel, it was determined that the best approach was to medevac the injured worker as soon as possible.
An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Facility Newport arrived at the F/V ARCTIC STORM at 7:36 a.m on Tuesday, November 19th. The 21-year-old male was hoisted and transported to awaiting medical personnel at Samaritan Pacific Community Hospital in Newport, Oregon for treatment. Weather conditions at the time of the rescue were reported as 10 to 13-foot seas and 25-mph winds.
Processing fish at sea has numerous benefits. At-sea-processing offers consumers the freshest product, reduces waste due to spoilage, and minimizes transportation fuel costs. But what happens to the waste products such as fish heads, fins and internal fish organs? They cannot simply be thrown overboard as they are considered “garbage”. The IMO has set up rules and regulations for the prevention of pollution by garbage from vessels and is covered under the Annex V of MARPOL.
MARPOL food waste disposal regulations require grinding seafood waste remains into particles ½” or smaller before they can be disposed of in Alaskan waters. This means that fish processing vessels must be outfitted with industrial grinders that can handle these byproducts. In addition, the ground seafood waste can only be discharged when the vessel is 3 nautical miles or more from land or 12 nautical miles from land if the vessel is in a location deemed “special”.
But these are not just any grinders. These heavy-duty industrial grinders, such as the Muffin Monster industrial seafood waste processor, must be able to grind rocks that have been ingested by sea creatures and stainless steel fishhooks that may still be in their mouths. It isn’t unusual for a halibut head to weigh more than 35 pounds, and these industrial grinders are known to macerate it in less than 20 seconds.
Vessel stability refers to the ability of a vessel to return to its upright position after being heeled over by wind, waves, or other forces. If a vessel is not stable, it is susceptible to capsizing. Each vessel is unique and therefore needs its own stability report prepared by a qualified naval architect.
Vessel stability was in the news again after the National Transportation Safety Board released its findings regarding the sinking of F/V PACIFIC KNIGHT, the vessel that capsized in Bristol Bay on July 25th, 2018. There were several contributing factors, but they all led back to stability. An overloaded vessel and an inadequate assessment of the vessel’s stability was cited as the cause of this devastating accident that took the life of a 59-year-old fisherman.
Vessel stability is complex and must be calculated by a professional. It is recommended that new stability reports be completed every 10 years or after any and all changes to equipment or modifications are made to a vessel. Stability is not a constant condition; it undergoes continuous changes during each voyage and through the life of a vessel.
Two people were rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard on Sunday, September 22nd after the 54-foot fishing vessel they were navigating became disabled after striking a submerged object. The F/V FEARLESS II subsequently drifted into the rocks near the Coos River entrance. Watchstanders at Sector North Bend received the distress call over VHF-FM radio channel 16 at approximately 12:52am.
The crewmembers climbed onto the rocks after being forced to abandon ship. An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter aircrew and a 47-foot Motor Lifeboat crew were dispatched from the U.S. Coast Guard Station Coos Bay and hoisted the two people from the jetty. They were transported to the air station and awaiting emergency medical personnel. One crewmember was uninjured while the other sustained abrasions and lacerations during the incident.
Salvage and debris cleanup from the vessel wreckage will be ongoing and challenging due to the precarious position of the F/V FEARLESS II among the rocks. The vessel belonged to the late Josh Porter, who lost his life along with two other crewmembers last January in the devastating F/V MARY B II accident off Newport. The F/V FEARLESS II was reportedly being brought back to Oregon to be sold.
A 58-year-old fisherman working aboard the F/V LAKE BAY was medevaced on Monday after suffering a large laceration to his arm. Sector Juneau command center received a call from the vessel’s master that a crewmember had been injured and needed assistance.
Sector Juneau issued an urgent marine information broadcast and launched a Station Ketchikan boat crew with local EMS aboard to respond. Ketchikan emergency medical services and the boat crew coordinated the transfer of the injured man to Station Ketchikan, then to Ketchikan Medical Center for treatment.
“Today there was a situation involving an injured fisherman in need of an escort to a higher level of care,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Cody Mitchell, a coxswain on the case. “With the cooperation of multiple responding agencies, our boat crew was able to successfully medevac the injured man south of Bold Island to Ketchikan, even with the restricted visibility.”
It is with great sadness that we report that the search for a missing fisherman near Nashagak Bay has been suspended.
On Monday, July 1st at about 3 a.m. watchstanders in the Sector Anchorage command center received a call via VHF-FM marine radio that a crewmember aboard the F/V PAIL RIDER had fallen overboard in Nashagak Bay.
The U.S. Coast guard dispatched a C-130 Hercules aircraft crew and MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Air Station Kodiak to search for the missing crew member. Flares were also fired by the F/V PAIL RIDER crew to alert other vessels in the area. Searchers were optimistic that because the fisherman was wearing bright orange pants and bib that he would be spotted by one of the approximately 10 good Samaritan vessels that were near the scene and searching. The missing crew member was not wearing a life jacket when he fell overboard. The F/V PAIL RIDER is home-ported in Dillingham, Alaska. Originally, the U.S. Coast Guard was optimistic that the man would be found.