September 2010 Archives

September 30, 2010

Coast Guard Bill Overhauls fishing safety laws

The U.S. Senate late Wednesday night unanimously approved a Coast Guard authorization bill that includes a major overhaul of federal fishing-industry safety laws, and measures to prevent Puget Sound oil spills.

The bill was expected to be approved by the House of Representatives and sent to President Obama for signing.

"It has been nearly four years in the making to get this important legislation through Congress," said Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wa., who chaired a Senate subcommittee with jurisdiction over the legislation. "This bill establishes new safety laws on oil-spill prevention and fishing vessel safety so that we can continue to operate in these pristine waters in a safe and effective manner.

.... The oil-spill provisions will include measures to expand oil-spill response capabilities around the entrance of Strait of Juan de Fuca and increase the role of Indian tribes in the response effort. The legislation will result in oil-spill response equipment, including booms and barriers, positioned along the strait.

Approximately 600 oil tankers and 3,000 oil barges travel each year through Puget Sound and carry about 15 billion gallons of oil to Washington refineries, according to Cantwell.

September 29, 2010

Fishing Vessel Sinks in Sitka Sound

The 74-year-old master of a sinking fishing vessel was rescued in Sitka Sound last week by Sitka Mountain Rescue with the assistance of the Coast Guard.

The boat was taking on lots of water just off Kulichkof Rock. Sitka Mountain Rescue personnel arrived at the scene and managed to recover the man moments before his 44-foot Wrangell-based trawler sank.

The master was treated for cold weather exposure and taken to the Sitka Community Hospital; he fortunately appears to be in good health.

September 28, 2010

Coast Guard suspends Captain's license

Coast Guard has suspended a Michigan man's Captain's license of for intentionally carrying more than six passengers aboard a small charter vessel without the vessel being properly inspected or certified for service. Coast Guard regulations require that small vessels (less than 100 gross tons) carrying passengers for hire be inspected and issued a Certificate of Inspection before the vessel can carry more than six passengers. Certified vessels must meet regulations relating to structural integrity, lifesaving, firefighting and other safety standards.

The suspension follows 36 months of effort by the Coast Guard to attempt to gain compliance from the vessel owner. The Coast Guard sates that the failure to meet the standards for small vessel passenger certifications presents a serious risk to the safety of the passengers.

September 28, 2010

Bristol Bay Red King Crab boat inspection

Coast Guard and Alaska Department of Fish and Game are administering voluntary safety checks to 74 Alaska crab boats registered for the Bristol Bay Red King Crab season. The dockside exams in Kodiak and Dutch Harbor will begin on September 27 and are designed to ensure that the vessel's safety equipment is current and in good working order. The focus of the exam is on life rafts, survival suits, and EPIRBs.

Crab boats participating in the Alaska Red King Crab season leaving port with crab pots aboard must notify the Coast Guard 24 hours prior to departure from port and provide them with the following information: (1) the name and official number of the boat; ( 2) the name of the person making the report; (3) number of crab pots aboard and the number of crab pots permitted by the vessel's stability report; (4) the expected time of departure. The number of crab pots a boat is permitted to carry varies, depending on the amount of fuel aboard a vessel and the manner in which the vessel is tanked. All crab boats should be sure to test their high and low water alarms in all unmanned compartments. Unintentional flooding of the lazarette has been cited as the cause of multiple crab boat sinkings in Alaska.

September 28, 2010

Seattle Water Taxi rams sea wall

The West Seattle water taxi rammed the sea wall at the Seattle waterfront Sunday, becoming wedged under the Washington Street Public Boat Landing.

Service was briefly suspended Sunday when the Rachel Marie struck the dock. County officials say Pier 50 was not damaged in the accident because the boat veered south and ran into another small dock.

Seven passengers were taken to hospital, their injuries were not believed to be significant, according to Coast Guard Lt. Jon Lane. None remained hospitalized Monday

Coast Guard inspectors are determining what caused the vessel to crash into the sea wall. Preliminary reports point to a mechanical malfunction, according to King County. The vessel caused "fairly significant" damage, Lane said, and had been wedged under the landing, on the Seattle waterfront. The vessel was traveling at about 6 knots.

Lane said 73 people were onboard the Rachel Marie at the time of the accident, many headed to the Seahawks game.

September 26, 2010

Coast Guard airlifts injured man from cruise ship

Coast Guard airlifted a man who suffered head and back injuries after a fall in his cabin from a cruise ship 100 miles west of Astoria.

Coast Guard Petty Officer Kelly Parker says the 69-year-old man, whom the Coast Guard did not identify, was in stable condition at Oregon Health and Science University after the Friday evacuation.

Parker says the man was conscious after the fall. A physician onboard the 781-foot cruise ship Volendam called the Coast Guard at about 1:30 p.m. on Friday to report the man's injuries.

September 26, 2010

Man to be charged in cruise ship death

A 47-year-old man from mainland China will appear in a Hong Kong court Monday on a charge of murder over the death of a woman who last week fell from a cruise ship, police said.

A police report said the man was arrested Friday after the 43-year-old woman fell into the sea off Waglan Island, near the eastern edge of Hong Kong's territory, a special autonomous region in southern China.

A Hong Kong newspaper reported Saturday that the woman was pulled unconscious from the water 50 minutes after she was pushed overboard from the casino ship MV Macau Success.

The woman was pronounced dead by rescuers and marine police arrested her 47-year-old husband on board the Macau Success for questioning, the South China Morning Post reported.

The MV Macau Success is one of several passenger ships that ferry gamblers from Hong Kong into international waters, beyond the jurisdiction of city's strict controls on gambling.

September 22, 2010

Fire Hits Seattle Trawler ROYAL ENTERPRISE

Fire broke out on a fishing trawler moored near Seattle Gas Works Park Friday night. The 125-foot fishing vessel, ROYAL ENTERPRISE, reportedly caught fire around 7:45 p.m. No one was aboard the vessel at the time of the fire, and the cause of fire is under investigation.

The Seattle Fire Department responded to the fire and was able to confine the fire to the deck level and control the fire in approximately an hour. This is the second boat fire to strike the Seattle fishing fleet in the last ten days.

September 16, 2010

Oil Rig Survivor Blames BP and Haliburton

Oil rig survivor and Transocean employee, Buddy Trahan, a supervisor on the Deepwater Horizon when it exploded and caught fire on April 20, 2010, was severely injured in the disaster and blames BP for the blowout of the well and tragedy that followed.

Trahan, with many years of experience blames BP and Haliburton, not the oil rig or its crew. Trahan is now suing both companies for negligence and "willful and outrageous conduct."

Trahan was lucky to survive the disaster. In the explosion he was hurled 30 feet through a wall, immediately burning the clothes off his back. Another worker pulled him from the rubble. Trahan suffered 12 broken bones and about 4 months after the disaster he was just beginning to walk again with the help of a walker.

Transocean, whom he did not sue, was paying his salary and his medical expenses. At the time of the interview around August 24, 2010, his salary and medical expenses amounted to more than $1.5 million.

Trahan's reason for blaming BP was a flawed well design. He said they used foam cement in a high-pressure well instead of using a "safer, casing-type (of cement) or more centralizers and also failing to properly test the wall's integrity."

Trahan said that he has worked 23 years in this business on jobs for BP, Chevron and Shell Oil and has never seen such a combination of bad decisions.

September 13, 2010

Injured Fisherman Rescued by Coast Guard

A fisherman was rescued from the fishing vessel, Ocean Force, on Tuesday, August 31, by the Coast Guard HH-65C Dolphin helicopter crew from Station Newport, Ore., supported by a second HH-65C helicopter crew from Group/Air Station North Bend, Ore. At the time of the rescue, Ocean Force was located 50 nautical miles west of Florence.

Saiville reportedly suffered head injuries, and was transported to emergency medical specialists waiting on shore where he was then transported by ambulance to Bay Area Hospital in Coos Bay.

Emergency medical specialists from Bay Area Ambulance waited at the Group/Air Station North Bend helipad as Coast Guard HH-65C Dolphin helicopter crews from Newport and North Bend conducted the medevac rescue.

The crew consisted of pilots, a flight mechanic, and a rescue swimmer, who boarded the vessel to ensure Saiville was safely transported to the waiting helicopter. U.S. Coast Guard Lt., Jason Reeder, who was on board the helicopter with Saiville, said the victim was responsive and his condition had progressively improved.

Ocean Force is a fishing vessel whose home port is located in Seattle, Washington. There are no reports at this time on how the accident occurred.

September 13, 2010

Mariners Win Again - Courts Punish Wrongful Conduct

In his September 13 order in Wagner v. Kona Blue Water Farms, Judge J. Michael Seabright dismissed the defense of a vessel operator that punitive damages cannot be recovered in unseaworthiness actions.

Wagner v. Kona Blue Water Farms, 2010 AMC 1217 (D. Hi. 2010), in which Judge Seabright deemed Kopczynski v. The Jacqueline, 742 F.2d 555, 1985 AMC 769 (9th Cir.1984), to be mandatory precedent and followed its rule that punitive damages are not recoverable in Jones Act negligence claims because Congress incorporated FELA's damages limitation into the Jones Act.

This decision on punitive damages in unseaworthiness causes of action will result in a flurry of motions to amend complaints.

Call us to learn what this means to you.

September 8, 2010

Senators Cantwell and Snowe make fishing-vessel safety a priority

Two Senators are key to passing legislation requiring the first overhaul of inspections and standards for America's fishing fleets. They are on opposite coasts, from states that share rich maritime traditions.

Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell chairs the Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard Subcommittee of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe is the subcommittee's senior Republican member.

The Senate has been the catch basin of vessel-safety legislation, and it will take a concerted effort by these two lawmakers to address a basic flaw in managing an industry with the nation's highest worker fatality rate.

The Senate becomes the focal point even before legislation leaves the House. A similar bill was voted out of the House in 2008, only to disappear in the Senate.

A key difference, noted by Seattle Times reporter Hal Bernton in a June 28 article, is the amount of time and interest invested by Minnesota Rep. James Oberstar, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

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