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scuba_divingIt is with great sadness that we report the death of a 36-year-old diver. The Pierce County Sheriff’s office dive team responded to a 911 call at approximately 2 p.m. on Tuesday April 18, 2017. They were informed that the diver was unresponsive just south of the Navy Surface Warfare Center on Fox Island.

Responders attempted CPR on the diver as they took him to the Navy dock where Gig Harbor Fire & Medic One met them.  Efforts to revive the man continued as he was transported to Saint Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma, where he was pronounced deceased.

According to a Pierce County spokesman, the man was a geoduck diver working on a commercial vessel for the Squaxin Island Tribe. Because the incident happened on a commercial vessel, The U.S. Coast Guard will lead the investigation.

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Spartan151-300x176Furie Operating Alaska, LLC (“Furie”) has agreed to pay a $10 million civil penalty handed down by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency for violation of the Jones Act. The settlement is the largest Jones Act penalty in the history of the Act. The company focuses on the exploration and production of natural gas and oil in the Cook Inlet region of Alaska.

Attorney Bryan Schroder, Acting United States Attorney for the District of Alaska, announced that the company was assessed the penalty after it was found to have transported the Spartan 151 jack-up drill rig to Alaska from the Gulf of Mexico using a vessel sailing under a foreign flag.

Under the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, also known as the Jones Act, cargo moved from one U.S port to another U.S port must be transported by a vessel that is U.S. built, U.S. owned and U.S. crewed. Violation of this law may result in the assessment of a civil penalty equal to the value of the merchandise transported. In special circumstances, a waiver may be requested from the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. A waiver may be granted if there is no U.S. vessel available or it is believed to be in the best interest of national defense.

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CoastGuardAwards-300x157We are pleased to report that the Coast Guard has named Tara Dodd 2016 active-duty enlisted person of the year and Nicole Cimino 2016 reserve enlisted person of the year for the 13th Coast Guard District.

Tara Dodd, Petty Officer 1st Class, is an active-duty culinary specialist assigned to the Coast Guard Cutter SWORDFISH. She has been described as a motivated self-starter who epitomizes sound leadership with her unique ability to instill confidence in others, and for her attention to detail, empathy, and mentorship. She is a respected leader, and through her own initiative has qualified for three additional special unit certifications. Dodd spends her off-duty time assisting a World War II veteran in the maintenance of his home and volunteers at the local Red Cross Home Fire Campaign, inspecting and replacing smoke detectors in local retirement facilities.

Nicole Cimino is the Lead Reserve Petty Officer of the armory at PSU 313 in Everett. Cimino supervises maintenance, training and range operations as well as maintaining the weapons qualifications for the 159 members assigned to the unit. Cimino has also served as a Level I trauma center nurse, where she has saved more than 1,000 seriously injured and critically wounded people. In addition to these accomplishments, she has led an armory team that exceeded Navy standards and received honors.

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Stacey-and-Jacobsen-Cropped-e1481062312338On March 9, 2017, in a landmark case handled by Stacey and Jacobsen, PLLC, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled unanimously that punitive damages may be awarded to injured fishermen and seamen when the case involves a general maritime unseaworthiness claim. Where an employer recklessly provides a vessel or equipment that is not reasonably fit, the employee may bring a separate additional claim of punitive damages. This ruling is a precedent setting victory for maritime workers throughout the nation. No other State Supreme Court has yet ruled on this issue. We are very pleased that employees now have an additional weapon in their arsenal to obtain justice and, at the same time, hopefully curtail dangerous conduct of shipowners.

Allan Tabingo was a deckhand aboard F/V AMERICAN TRIUMPH when the accident occurred. After fish are brought aboard the vessel, a hatch is opened on the deck so that deckhands can shovel the fish through the hatch for processing. To move the last of the fish from the deck into the hatch, a deckhand must get down on all-fours and push the remaining fish through the hatch using their hands. Tabingo was on his knees gathering the fish when another deckhand began closing the hatch. The deckhand realized that Allan Tabingo’s hand was in danger, and tried to stop the hatch from closing. The handle on the hydraulic control valve was broken and repeatedly popped out of the valve. The hatch closed on Tabingo’s hand, severing two of his fingers. The vessel operator had been aware of the broken control handle for two years prior to the incident, yet failed to repair it. In fact, the crew tied one end of a piece of line around the handle and the other end to the ship’s rail so that when the handled popped out, it would not fall overboard. Alan Tabingo suffered the amputation of two fingers and the loss of his livelihood.

Tabingo filed suit in King County Superior Court against the vessel operator, American Seafoods. He asserted Jones Act negligence and general maritime law unseaworthiness claims. The punitive damages claim was based on the precedent setting 2009 Supreme Court of the United States ruling in Atlantic Sounding v. Townsend. The trial judge decided that punitive damages did not apply and dismissed Tabingo’s claim. Tabingo appealed to the State of Washington Supreme Court.

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SR520DOT-e1488913715697On Wednesday March 1st, a floating crane broke loose from tethers and drifted from the Highway 520 project toward waterfront homes on Lake Washington.

According to a Laurelhurst homeowner, the crane was floating north of the job site toward residential docks at about 4 a.m.

Emily Durante, a project spokeswoman for the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), reported that the equipment ran aground in shallow water and was retrieved before reaching any homes or docks.

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Duwamish-SpillThe US Coast Guard and Washington Department of Ecology responded to a fuel spill in Seattle on the West Waterway of the Duwamish River after a tug and barge collided. The incident occurred at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday morning.

Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound, Ecology and the National Response Center were notified of the spill by the operator of Island Tug and Barge at 9:12 a.m. The hull of the tug was breached in the collision, and damage was sustained to one of the diesel fuel tanks.

While the tank’s capacity is 9,000 gallons, the tug was reportedly carrying only 1,200 gallons of fuel at the time of the incident. Larry Altose of the Ecology Department said, “We’ll treat response as if all spilled, until we learn differently.”

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Samson_Mariner-300x225The Coast Guard, working in partnership with several other agencies, continues to respond to the tugboat SAMSON MARINER that ran aground near Rosa Reef in north Tongass Narrows, Alaska. Approximately 1,100 gallons of fuel was spilled before the breach could be patched by Alaska Commercial Divers.

The official report by the Coast Guard indicates that environmental pollution from the breach might have been much higher, as the SAMSON MARINER was carrying 30,000 gallons of fuel on board while the barge was carrying 40,000 gallons of diesel. Thankfully, the barge did not sustain any damage. Southeast Alaska Petroleum Response Organization (SEAPRO) initiated immediate cleansing of the water around the Rosa Reef using a fuel containment and recovery boom as well as absorbent pads.

“We are working closely with our partner agencies to recover as much of the spilled product as possible,” said Capt. Shannan Greene, Coast Guard Sector Juneau commander. “When spilled, this type of diesel spreads quickly into thin films forming patches of rainbow and silver sheens. We expect the sheen to break up within the next 12 to 24 hours, with scattered sheens potentially still visible under the low wind conditions forecast for tomorrow. Although not expected to impact sensitive areas or wildlife, we routinely collaborate with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to mitigate these risks.”

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FV-Destination-1-2It is with great sadness that we report the suspension of the search for the six missing crew members of the F/V DESTINATION. The vessel is believed to have sunk on Saturday, February 11th in the Bering Sea. Weather at the time was reported as 30-mph winds with five to eight-foot seas and snowing. The air temperature was 21 degrees and sea temperature was 3o degrees.

The Coast Guard reported that the search covered more than 5,730 square nautical miles, and included 21 coordinated searches with a total of 69 aircraft and surface hours.

Watchstanders from the 17th District reported that an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) alert was received from the F/V DESTINATION early Saturday morning, and that Kodiak aircrews were deployed to initiate the search.

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FV-Destination-1-2-300x169The search in the Bering Sea continues for the 98’ F/V DESTINATION and six crewmembers, whose emergency beacon broadcast a signal at 7:15 am, February 11 from two miles northwest of St. George, Alaska. The Coast Guard’s Hercules airplane crew arrived at 10:15 am to begin searching, and two helicopters crews are also assisting. Two Good Samaritan fishing vessels, SILVER SPRAY AND BERING ROSE, also assisted with the search.

The emergency beacon, or electronic position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB), was found in a debris field with buoys, a life ring from the DESTINATION, tarps, and an oil sheen.

Residents in St. George are patrolling the shoreline for any signs of the crew or boat. St. George is a small Pribilof Island with a population of approximately 100.

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The US Coast Guard rescued three commercial fishermen on Sunday morning after their fishing vessel COASTAL REIGN began taking on water. The crew reported that their vessel struck a submerged object as they navigated the mouth of the Columbia River.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Columbia received the captain’s mayday call (listen here) at 3:20 a.m. An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter was launched, and first to arrive on the scene at 3:38 a.m. A 47-foot motor life boat from Ilwaco, Washington arrived shortly thereafter, and assisted with the dewatering of the fishing vessel.

The dewatered vessel was then towed to safety and moored at 4:40 a.m.