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Articles Posted in Maritime Safety

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Alaska-Iceberg1200x600-300x150Vessel 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.

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Coos-Bay-Fearless-300x168Two 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.

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LacerationA 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.”

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It is with great sadness that we report that the search for a missing fisherman near Nashagak Bay has been suspended.

On MDillingham_Alaska_aerial_viewonday, 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.

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Bristol-Bay-Dockside-Exams-300x214Commercial fishing continues to be among the most hazardous jobs in the U.S. but there are many ways vessel owners and crew members can mitigate risk. In an effort to prepare for the 2019 Bristol Bay commercial salmon season, the U.S. Coast Guard is offering free dockside examinations for all commercial fishing vessels. Locations and dates are as follows:

King Salmon: June 6-21

Dillingham: June 10-20

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Brain_ScanIf you are a maritime worker, you already know that work at sea is dangerous. Jones Act or maritime law is in place to give rights to workers as well as an extra layer of protection. Know your rights, and if an accident does occur, we recommend that you follow these guidelines:

1. Report the Accident – It is imperative that you let your supervisor or captain know immediately that you have been injured. Jones Act or Maritime Law requires the injured party to report any work-related injury within seven (7) days, but don’t wait that long. The insurance company may assume that if you didn’t report the accident right away, it wasn’t very serious, so don’t wait. If you get hurt while working and you believe that your injuries need medical attention or have even the slightest chance of causing you to miss work, report it right away.

2. Seek Medical Attention – The law requires your employer to see that you receive medical treatment for your injuries. If you are at sea and your injuries are serious, the ship should have the Coast Guard medevac you to a hospital. If you are far out at sea or in international waters, a Coast Guard helicopter may be able to pick you up as soon as you are within range of the United States. The ship has the ability to consult with a physician by phone or radio if your condition is serious. And, if you are in a foreign country, your employer must get you proper medical treatment and get you back home at their expense. Your employer must pay for all medical attention that you need if you are injured or become ill while in the service of the vessel.

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VikingSky-300x188Rocky seas can be a nuisance for cruise ship passengers, but when the weather turns stormy with high seas, that inconvenience can quickly turn into real danger for passengers and crew. That is exactly what happened this week as the cruise ship VIKING SKY experienced extreme weather and complete engine failure, then began drifting towards the shore.

The VIKING SKY was carrying 1373 passengers and crew members as it sailed towards Stavanger, Norway. Engines went out in a particularly rough patch of sea, and a mayday call was issued just before the crew managed to drop anchor in Hustadvika Bay.

Five helicopters were sent to the scene and began evacuating people, one at a time, as the ship was tossed around by 26-foot seas and 43 mph wind gusts. It was reported that the crew was ready with lifeboats for a complete evacuation, but the heavy seas made lifeboat evacuations impossible.

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Louisiana-BargeA maritime construction worker has been awarded $3.3 million after a Louisiana federal court judge ruled that the worker’s head and spinal injuries were due to a captain’s negligence. The case was covered by the Jones Act and the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA).

Devin Barrios, a maritime construction worker, was transferring a portable generator from a boat to a barge when the accident occurred. Rather than secure the two vessels properly with mooring lines, the captain used engine power alone to hold the two vessels together during the transfer. The 22-year old was straddling the two vessels when they unexpectedly shifted. Barrios fell in the water, and the 150-pound generator tumbled down on top of him. He suffered a head injury with mild brain trauma that required 28 staples, and his spinal injuries required surgery. There is still the possibility of future surgery.

Jones Act and LHWCA grant unique and special rights to maritime workers. The LHWCA provides rights for land-based workers who perform work on, for, and around vessels. Employers are required to provide compensation irrespective of fault for the accidental injury or death arising out of a covered worker’s employment. Under the Jones Act, an employer is required to provide crewmembers with a reasonably safe place to work and reasonable care to prevent injuries. Negligence is the failure to do something that a reasonably prudent person would do, or not do, under similar circumstances. In this case, the reasonable and prudent option would have been to use mooring lines during the transfer of equipment. In the event of an injury, the employer is obligated to provide maintenance and cure, regardless of fault or negligence.

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cold-bay-alaskax1800-1-300x225The U.S. Coast Guard “forward deploys” assets to Cold Bay during the winter fishing season in an effort to shave hours off flight times when emergency personnel must respond to situations in the Bering Sea and the Aleutian Islands. Once again, this practice proves prudent.

On Tuesday, January 29th at approximately 11pm, the U.S. Coast Guard 17th District Command Center watchstanders received a call from Health Force Partners with a request for a medevac. A 35-year-old crewmember aboard the F/V Golden Alaska was suffering from severe leg pain and needed medical attention. The vessel was located approximately 40 miles north of the Cold Bay station. Watchstanders directed the launch of a U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter aircrew, forward-deployed to Cold Bay. The crewmember was hoisted then transported to the Cold Bay clinic. It was reported that he arrived in stable condition.

“Our forward operating locations are critical to mission success in Alaska,” said Lt. Jeff Mistrick, a Jayhawk pilot on the medevac. “Alaska has more than 47,300 miles of shoreline and encompasses more than 3.8 million square miles of land that we are responsible for covering. Had it not been for our close proximity to this man, we may not have been able to hoist him as quickly as we did.”

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Coast-Guard-Rescue1200-300x22542,000 active-duty U.S. Coast Guard members have missed their first paycheck due to the government shutdown. Coast Guard members are continuing to work without pay on essential duties “that provide for national security or that protect life and property during partial government shutdowns,” such as securing U.S. ports and coastlines, search-and-rescue missions, and environmental events.

Active-duty personnel who work in other branches of the military continue to receive pay as they are funded by the Department of Defense, which continues to receive funding during a partial government shutdown. However, the U.S. Coast Guard falls under Homeland Security, one of the nine departments affected by the shutdown. Others include the Department of Agriculture, the Department of the Interior, the Department of State, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Commerce, and the Department of Justice. The Environmental Protection Agency, NASA, and the Smithsonian have all shut down as they are under the umbrella of one of the nine department closures.

On January 4th, a bipartisan bill was introduced in Congress called the Pay Our Coast Guard Act. It would allow members of the U.S. Coast Guard as well as its civilian employees and contractors to be paid throughout the shutdown. The bill which is sponsored by Oregon Congressman Peter DeFazio, and has support from 29 Democrats and 10 Republicans. South Carolina Congressman Joe Cunningham cosponsored the bill.

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