October 2010 Archives

October 29, 2010

Puget Sound reopen for crabbing

Four areas around Puget Sound will soon be opened seven days a week for crabbing.

At 8 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 15, marine areas 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca), 9 (Admiralty Inlet), 10 (Seattle/Bremerton) and 12 (Hood Canal) will reopen for sport crabbing through Jan. 2, 2011. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) decided to reopen the four areas after determining that sufficient crab are available for harvest.

Crab fishing will also remain open seven days a week through Jan. 2 in marine areas 4 (Neah Bay), 5 (Sekiu), and 13 (south Puget Sound), where the fishery has continued uninterrupted since June 18.

Continue reading "Puget Sound reopen for crabbing" »

October 29, 2010

Damage to lock worse than thought

The large Ballard lock is still operating on a twice-daily basis as crews work for fix damage from a lightning strike that turned out to be worse than initially thought.

A powerful blast of lightning knocked out power to the large lock shortly before midnight almost three weeks ago. Three days later, on Oct. 14, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reopened the lock on a limited basis, with openings at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. daily.

Workers have been stationed underground on either side of the lock, operating the miter gates that hold and release water by using an electrical crank system that operates separately from the main electrical box, which was knocked out by the lightning strike. The lock still can't be operated from the above-ground tower.

Continue reading "Damage to lock worse than thought" »

October 29, 2010

Court Finds in Favor of Fisherman

A King County Judge has ordered B&N Fisheries to reinstate an injured crewman's maintenance and care benefits.

The Court further ordered the company to authorize surgery for the crewman's elbow and to pay reasonable attorney fees in connection with the motion. B&N Fisheries moved to block the attorney fee award, arguing that only a jury can determine the amount of attorney fees due in a case involving the wrongful withholding of maintenance and care. The Court denied the motion and again affirmed the crewman's right to be compensated for attorney fees.

October 29, 2010

Halliburton Knew of Flaws that Caused Fatal Blowout

Halliburton officials knew weeks before the fatal explosion of the BP well in the Gulf of Mexico that the cement mixture they planned to use to seal the bottom of the well was unstable but still went ahead with the job, the presidential commission investigating the accident said on Thursday.

Tests performed before the deadly blowout of BP's oil well in the Gulf of Mexico should have raised doubts about the cement used to seal the well, but the company and its cementing contractor used it anyway.

In the first official finding of responsibility for the blowout, which killed 11 workers and led to the biggest offshore oil spill in American history, the commission staff determined that Halliburton had conducted three laboratory tests that indicated that the cement mixture did not meet industry standards.

Continue reading "Halliburton Knew of Flaws that Caused Fatal Blowout" »

October 29, 2010

Damages in Wrongful Death

A Washington King County Judge has found in favor of the parents of a deceased fish processor in a wrongful death case.

Vin Phan was killed in an accident aboard the O'Hara Corporation factory trawler ENTERPRISE in June of 2007. Phan was 28 years old and was living with his parents, for whom he provided services and support.

The Phans had immigrated to the United States in 1993 from Vietnam. In Vietnamese cultural, the oldest son resides with his parents through their death. Under the Death on The High Seas Act, parents of deceased crewmen are limited in the types of damages they can recover. There can be no award for love, affection or destruction of the parent-child relationship. Given proper evidentiary proof, parents are entitled to loss of support and service damages.

After trial, Superior Court Judge Steven Gonzalez awarded Phan's parents compensation for loss of future support and services for the next 29 years. The total award was $522,362.

October 28, 2010

Weapons discovered under New Cruise Terminal

Recently discovered military shells and other weapons found buried in silt under Seattle's new cruise ship terminal create obvious public safety and ecological risks.

"This stuff is toxic," said Kathy Fletcher of People For Puget Sound. Fletcher said not only does this pose an active risk to salmon and other fish in the area, but also threatens to delay badly needed cleanup projects. 

The Coast Guard has said they don't know yet the extent of the weapons in that area.

October 28, 2010

Barge Hits Power Line

The U.S. Coast guard has reported a that a barge crane on the Galveston Causeway Bridge broke free sometime after 5:00 a.m., Thursday morning, October 28, hitting a power line resulting in a major outage on the island.

It is believed gusting winds of 30mph set free a crane barge which struck a transmission power line disrupting electicity to some 16,000 Galveston residents. CenterPoint crews went to work immediately, rerouting and restoring power.

"A crane barge apparently during the night with high wind and rough water broke free and hit a power line," Renee Aiello a Coast Guard spokeswoman Petty Officer said.

There were no reported injuries at the time of the incident.

Continue reading "Barge Hits Power Line" »

October 28, 2010

100 Crew Rescued from Fire

A massive fire aboard a fishing boat in the Atlantic Ocean, left approximately 100 crewmembers stranded, before they could be rescued and brought back to shore.

According to news reports, the fire broke out in packing material on board the Athena when the vessel was about 230 nautical miles southwest of the Isles of Sicily.  The approximately 98 crewmembers onboard were forced to abandon ship. The crew members, mostly Russian, Chinese, Peruvian and Scandinavian, floated in the ocean for several hours before they were rescued by a container ship. 13 other crewmembers including the captain, stayed back on the ship to fight the blaze.

The crewmembers were on a boat back to Falmouth, and are expected back on shore late on Thursday. No injuries have been reported, and firefighting crew members are also reported to be safe and sound.

October 28, 2010

Injured Crewman Airlifted To Sitka

The Coast Guard airlifted a 53-year old John Harmon, from a 183-foot tanker off the coast of Alaska. The crewman, the vessel's first assistant engineer, suffered severe injuries to his leg when a deck plate landed on his legs. He was flown to Sitka for emergency medical treatment. The tanker SIERRA and was en route to Richmond, California, when the accident occurred. Coast Guard records indicate the SIERRA is owned by Seariver Maritime, Inc. of Houston, Texas.

October 27, 2010

Security Zone at Deepwater Horizon Site

The U.S. Department of Justice announced today that a federal judge has declared a security zone around the Deepwater Horizon explosion site in the Gulf of Mexico until Oct. 8, 2011, as a means of protecting any evidence located in the area.

According to an article at NOLA.com, the security zone extends from the center of the wreckage site, which is located at coordinates N28-5491/W088-22.0293 in the area known as the Mississippi Canyon 252, from the sea floor of the Gulf of Mexico to the sea surface.

The security zone will extend 750 feet in all directions from the site of the accident, which resulted in 11 deaths and the largest oil spill in U.S. history.  A team of federal prosecutors are investigating possible criminal and civil cases stemming from the spill.

The statement issued by the Department of Justice said it has informed all companies known to have the means and equipment to do so not to enter the zone. The area will be protected by boats, aircraft and other methods, the statement said.

October 26, 2010

Little Concern for Maritime Hostages

Roberto Giorgi, president of InterManager and V. Ships, has found during his travels around the world, that there was much attention paid to the plight of the Chilean miners who had been trapped underground for months before being rescued. However, there was little awareness of the fact that there continue to be hundreds of ship crewmembers in pirate custody.

While there are plenty of organizations that claim to work for the rights of seafarers, they have been able to do very little to present a cohesive front, and place pressure on the international community to tackle piracy.

Although international maritime authorities have laid out best practices to tackle piracy, many sections of the shipping industry worldwide fail to follow these measures. For instance, many vessel operators fail to offer shipboard security, exposing the vessel and the crewmembers to the risk of an attack.

October 26, 2010

Serious Injury In Tanker Fall

The Coast Guard airlifted a seriously injured crewman from the tanker ship POLAR STAR near Neah Bay,Washington. Details of how the 56 year old crewman was injured were not available. The injured crewman was transported to Olympic Medical Center in Port Angeles for treatment.

October 26, 2010

Coast Guard search for kayaker

The Coast Guard is searching for a possible missing kayaker in the vicinity of Vashon Island and Blake Island, Wash., Saturday.

Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound, in Seattle, received notification from the Washington State Ferry Tillicum at 6:50 a.m. of an orange kayak, with a lifejacket and a paddle onboard, adrift in between Vashon Island and Blake Island State Marine Park.

Coast Guard Station Seattle launched a 41-foot Utility Boat rescue crew to begin searching for a potential person in the water and Coast Guard Air Station Port Angeles, Wash., launched an HH-65 Dolphin helicopter rescue crew at 8:05 a.m. to further assist.

Anyone with information on the kayak and its ownership should call Sector Puget Sound at (206) 217-6001.

October 26, 2010

Boatyard rule changes delayed

A controversial new permit governing Washington boatyards is going back to the drawing board in the wake of reaction from stakeholders.

The Boatyard General Permit, which governs about 100 boatyards around the state, was expected to be implemented this month and would impose stricter water standards but also give struggling boatyards more time to meet the new requirements.

After receiving 80 pages of written comments from boatyards, port authorities, trade groups, environmental organizations and others, the state Department of Ecology, which issues the permit, is considering revising the draft document. Gary Bailey, Ecology's water quality permit specialist, said he is putting together a report detailing possible changes to the permit, which will go to Ecology management for review and a decision.

The draft permit proposes stricter benchmarks for copper and zinc but a more lenient limit for lead (benchmarks are considered target levels and are not legally enforceable, while limits are legally enforceable levels). The permit also sets the same benchmarks for boatyards on both freshwater and saltwater. Many boatyards would need to install costly treatment systems, which can cost upward of $100,000, to meet the new standards.

Continue reading "Boatyard rule changes delayed" »

October 26, 2010

Shrimp boat capsizes; 1 dead

Mayport Coast Guard crews were off the coast of Amelia Island today, trying to determine if any pollution was caused by the Monday capsizing of a shrimp boat that killed a crew member.

As of Tuesday morning, the Coast Guard still had not identified the crewman, said Petty Officer 1st Class Christopher Evanson of the Mayport Coast Guard station. The sunken vessel, the 36-foot Miss Alberta, is posing no hazard to navigation for other ships and boats, Evanson said. The shrimp boat's owner is responsible for removing the underwater wreckage, he said.

Shrimper Tony Malone, first mate aboard another shrimp boat, the Joe Bip, said his boat got a distress call about 3 p.m. Monday from the Miss Alberta, which was shrimping nearby, about a half mile from shore. Waves were about 5 feet offshore and winds were coming from the south at 17.5 mph and gusting at 21 mph, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's weather buoy off the coast of St. Augustine. Malone dove into the water to save the two-member crew. "The boat was already upside down," he said. He said he found the captain, who he and witnesses identified as Bo King of Mayport, swimming with his dead crew member tethered to him with a rope.

October 26, 2010

BP To Pay For Oil Spill

In his first major public speech since taking the top job, Dudley said BP would not pull out of the United States - and that the U.S. needs a company with BP's resources to meet its vast energy needs.

Dudley delivered a speech whose mood hovered between firm and penitent, seeking to make clear that BP was learning every lesson possible from the disaster. He stressed that he also has met with experts from other hazardous industries, including the nuclear and chemical industries, as part of the company's focus on improving safety.

U.S. lawmakers have widely blamed BP for the disaster. Former EPA Administrator William K. Reilly, co-chair of an independent oil spill commission investigating the rig explosion, suggested Monday that BP fed the fear and mistrust by initially minimizing the impact of the spill.

In an interview with The Associated Press in New Orleans, Reilly said the company shouldn't downplay the significance of "what occurred and what happened on their watch and what was their responsibility to prevent."

Continue reading "BP To Pay For Oil Spill" »

October 26, 2010

Iraq vet killed in boating accident

Authorities have found the body of an Iraq war veteran who was thrown from a boat during a collision on a central Florida river.The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says divers from the Seminole County Sheriff's Office found the body of 36-year-old Jamie Orsten on Saturday. Orsten was thrown into the water after the boat he was riding in crashed with another vessel on the St. Johns River Friday evening. Officials say he was not wearing a life jacket. Commission spokeswoman Joy Hill said Orsten was an Army veteran of the Iraq war. Charges are pending the outcome of an investigation.

October 26, 2010

Ship Security System failures

US Coast Guard last week issued a marine safety alert about Ship Security Alert Systems, notifying owners and operators of vessels about the critical nature and importance of these systems.

The Coast Guard is aware of a recent Breach of Security on board a vessel overseas where the Ship Security Alert System primary activation button had failed to transmit a Breach of Security message. When the second activation button was depressed, not all the important and critical information was transmitted as it should have been.

Fortunately, in this security failure there were no injuries or deaths but something like this could have easily ended in fatalities or injuries to the crewmembers. The Ship Security Alert System in this case had been serviced just two days before the incident. Records indicate that the technician who performed the testing did not have the right equipment to do so.

The Coast Guard is recommending that a Ship Security Alert System survey always be performed by a fully qualified technician. Among other things, the survey must check if the system complies with IMO standards, that a minimum of two activation points are provided and that the transmission of the security alert can be done without an adjustment of the radio system.

October 22, 2010

Cruise industry sets record

The Port of Seattle achieved its best ever cruise season in 2010, with a record number of cruise ship calls and passengers.

Twelve homeported vessels and six ports of call made up the 223 dockings and a total of 931,698 revenue passengers moved through the Port's two cruise terminals.

"The cruise business brings jobs, and each ship call brings $1.9 million to King County," said Port of Seattle Commission President Bill Bryant. "The 2010 cruise season is good economic news for our region."

The cruise industry also generated $425 million in business revenue, $18.9 million in state and local taxes and 4,447 jobs in 2010.

Continue reading "Cruise industry sets record" »

October 22, 2010

Oil Drilling Safety Rules Improperly Issued?

On Tuesday, October 19, 2010, Federal Judge Martin Feldman issued a ruling that the Interior Department improperly issued new safety rules after the moratorium that was placed on deep water drilling following the Gulf oil spill disaster.

Regarding the rules imposed in a June 8 notice to offshore operators, the October 19 ruling by U.S. District Judge Feldman said that the those rules were not enforceable because the government failed to first solicit public comment before issuing them.

In September of this year the Interior Department announced it was issuing new guidelines to replace the safety rules issued on June 8.

The Department of the Interior imposed a second ban on deep water drilling on July 12. In June, Judge Feldman struck down the first moratorium but he hasn't decided whether or not the second moratorium imposed on July 12 was justified.

Earlier this month in October, the second moratorium was lifted by the Obama administration.

October 21, 2010

Change pinches commercial crabbers

New rules shift the balance of Puget Sound's annual crab take toward recreational fisherman.

"It's a very big deal," said Brian Allison, an Oak Harbor resident and president of the Puget Sound Crab Association. "It's basically the difference between a viable commercial industry and one that's not."

Yet those representing recreational interests see the change in a different light. They chalk up the new rules as not only a big win for the people of Washington, but one that is long overdue.

"It's definitely a step in the right direction," said Bryan Irwin, executive director for the Coastal Conservation Association's northwest region. "Arguably, it doesn't go far enough to give recreational fisherman their fair share but it was the best of the options and we are pleased with the decision."

On Oct. 1, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission approved policy changes that will eliminate current catch quotas for recreational crabbers and replace them with a fixed season that will run five days a week, from July to Labor Day, and seven days a week during the winter months, from October through December. A five-crab-a-day per person limit will be in effect for both seasons.

Miranda Wecker, chair of the nine-member commission, said the rule change has been coming for several years. Commercial fishermen have long received the bulk of the state's fixed crab quota and a spike in the number of recreational crabbers in recent years made it evident that it was time for a change.

October 21, 2010

Impaired boaters to lose automobile license

Members of B.C.'s boating community have paired with the Canadian Safe Boating Council, the Lifesaving Society and MADD Canada to support the Vancouver Police Department in their recommendation that impaired boating should be included in B.C.'s new administrative license program. The change would allow police to suspend the automobile licenses of any boater found with a blood alcohol content of over .05 percent.

"Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, British Columbia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland have implemented, or are in the process of implementing, strong provincial license suspension programs to deal with automobile drivers who, while under the Criminal Code limit of .08 per cent, still pose a danger to others," said MADD Canada chief executive Andrew Murie. "We would like to see those programs extended to people who endanger others by operating their boats while impaired."

"It would seem to me that all responsible boaters would be supportive of such changes to the Motor Vehicle Act as far too many boating incidents and accidents occur as a result of alcohol consumption on the water," said Norm Dyck, the chair of the Pacific Recreational Boating Advisory Council in an email to Pacific Yachting.

October 21, 2010

Cruise Ship - Cargo Ship Collide

Passengers aboard the Costa Classica got a scare when the 1,300-passenger cruise ship was damaged in a collision with a cargo ship during an Asia cruise. Some minor injuries were reported among passengers, Italian cruise line Costa Cruises says.

The accident occurred in the Yangtze River as the cruise ship returned to Shanghai from Cheju, Korea, reports Seatrade Insider. After the 4:46 a.m. collision with the Belgian-flagged Lowlands Longevity, passengers on the Classica were summoned to their emergency muster stations. Several reported to the ship doctor with minor injuries, and three passengers were sent ashore for medical care, Costa Cruises says.

Seatrade says local news images show the ship docked in Shanghai with a 60-foot scrape or gash along its starboard side on Deck 5, a deck below the lowest level of cabins, but well above the water line.

October 20, 2010

Fate of Oil Released by Deepwater Horizon Explosion

Six months after the Deepwater Horizon explosion occurred on April 20, which killed 11 oil rig workers and devastated the Gulf Coast ecosystem and economy with an unprecedented oil spill making it the largest man made disaster in the history of the United States, the leak at the Macondo well was finally capped on July 15.

Retired U.S. Coast Guard admiral Thad Allen, said about 5 months later, "We can now state definitively that the Macondo well poses no continuing threat to the Gulf of Mexico."

In their report, the commission was critical of the government for both underestimating the amount of oil that remained in the Gulf and for presenting the budget as a scientific assessment, rather than "a rough operational tool." The "findings were neither as clear nor as reassuring as the initial rollout suggested," the commission wrote.

Continue reading "Fate of Oil Released by Deepwater Horizon Explosion" »

October 18, 2010

Trio rescued by Navy

A sunny Saturday afternoon being enjoyed by a Central Kitsap man and his two teen sons suddenly came to an end when their motorboat ran out of fuel in Ostrich Bay.

The stranded trio caught the attention of the Navy, which sent a rescue boat to fetch them, as well as a man on shore, who rowed out to help.

One of the sons who had asthma had difficulty breathing during the excitement, but his condition was not serious, according to a report from the Bremerton Fire Department.

October 18, 2010

Fire means end of historic ferry

"Everything below deck is toast," remarked a firefighter.

And so is a piece of Northwest maritime history.

An Aug. 28 blaze gutted the engine room of the tour boat MV Kirkland at its Marina Park dock in Kirkland, Wash. In all likelihood the fire spelled an end to the vessel's long career, which dates to 1924.

The wooden-hulled boat was regarded as a treasure by its owners, Argosy Cruises, as well as Kirkland residents. Used primarily on Lake Washington, it's listed on the Washington Heritage Register and National Register of Historic Places.

Continue reading "Fire means end of historic ferry" »

October 15, 2010

Creosote release - investigation follows

The Coast Guard received a report on Oct. 5, 2010, from the Environmental Protection Agency of a manufactured gas plant coal tar creosote waste release in the mid-tidal zone of Sinclair Inlet in Bremerton.

The source is a subsurface concrete pipe coming from the old Bremerton Gasworks, a site where a coal-gasification plant operated from the 1930s into the 1950s. The pipe is leaking creosote into beach sediments and marine water, but the pipe's origin is unknown at this time. The EPA and Coast Guard are working together on an excavation plan to remove the pipe and contaminated soil from the beach and plug the pipe.

The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act fund has been opened and the Coast Guard has hired Ballard Diving and Salvage to contain and secure the release.

Continue reading "Creosote release - investigation follows" »

October 15, 2010

Surprise oil rig inspections

The U.S. offshore drilling agency will begin surprise inspections on oil rigs as part of a new aggressive enforcement effort adopted by the Obama administration since the BP oil spill, the agency's head said on Thursday.

Bureau head, Michael Bromwich, said he saw no legitimate reason to let oil companies know about planned inspections as much as two days in advance.

"I think unannounced inspections should and must play a significant role in an integrated inspections policy," Bromwich told the Reuters Global Climate and Alternative Energy Summit.

The department will provide companies some notice about inspections but not a full day ahead of the inspection, Bromwich said.

Continue reading "Surprise oil rig inspections" »

October 14, 2010

Jury "Fisherman Not Guilty"

A Kodiak jury found a commercial fisherman not guilty of intentionally running over another vessel's fishing net, after a four day criminal trial.

Steve Suydam had been charged criminally for the incident and was facing a potential one year jail sentence and up to a $10,000 fine. The criminal charges arose out of an incident on Kodiak Island's Red River. The accident allegedly resulted in nearly $5,000 in net damage and loss of two days of fishing time to a vessel captained by David Pyle.

Suydam did not dispute that he had run over Pyle's net but, rather, contended that Pyle had set his net too close to Suydam's, resulting in Suydam's boat running over Pyle's net.

Continue reading "Jury "Fisherman Not Guilty"" »

October 14, 2010

Navy to Avoid Another Oyster-Killing

U.S. Navy officials say they want to assure Hood Canal residents that steps have been taken to avoid a repeat of an incident linked to the destruction of thousands of oysters.

Hood Canal residents blamed the USS Port Royal, a 567-foot guided missile cruiser, for creating a wake that washed oysters high up on their beaches on Aug. 11.

Some oysters -- including those at Scenic Beach State Park -- were moved back down to the water by volunteers. But many more on both sides of Hood Canal perished in the heat of the summer sun, according to residents, including Vickie Veloni of Miami Beach near Seabeck.

Continue reading "Navy to Avoid Another Oyster-Killing" »

October 13, 2010

Chittenden Lock to open Oct. 14 on limited basis

The large lock at the Chittenden Locks in Ballard will open Thursday Oct. 14 on a limited basis, due to the need to manually operate the large lock, which experienced an electrical outage from a lightning strike Oct. 11.

At this time, there will be two lockages daily -- one beginning at 9 a.m. and one at 1 p.m. Both lockages will include an up and then down lockage or vice versa, depending on the flow of the traffic. Vessels entering the Locks from Lake Washington require lowering the water. Vessels entering the Locks from Puget Sound require raising the water.

Lockages will be done on a priority basis. The barges and freighters on scheduled runs will get a one per lockage priority. The next priority will go to all other commercial vessels. If there are no other commercial vessels, another barge and freighter could be included.

Continue reading "Chittenden Lock to open Oct. 14 on limited basis" »

October 13, 2010

Deepwater Drilling Ban Ends

The Obama administration lifted its ban on deep water drilling seven weeks ahead of schedule Tuesday, Oct 12, stating that the new rules cut the risk of a repeat of the BP oil spill, caused by the Deepwater Horizon explosion on April, 20th.

The U.S. Interior Department said oil companies must comply with new regulations and demonstrate they can adequately respond to blowouts.

Reuters reports: "The oil and gas industry will be operating under tighter rules, stronger oversight, and in a regulatory environment that will remain dynamic as we continue to build on the reforms we have already implemented," Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in a statement.

Continue reading "Deepwater Drilling Ban Ends" »

October 12, 2010

Search for Columbia River Recreational Sailor

The Coast Guard has called a halt to the search for a crewman who fell overboard off a sail boat in the Columbia River. The 46-year old sailor was lost on Sunday when he fell off the 65-foot sailboat BAD DOG near Kelly, Oregon. Despite an air and sea search by the Coast Guard, the man, reported to not be wearing a life jacket at the time of the accident, was unable to be located.

October 12, 2010

Chittenden Lock remains closed

The large lock at the Chittenden Locks in Ballard remains closed to vessel traffic due to a lightning strike Monday Oct. 11, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which operates the locks.

Originally expected to be returned to service by Tuesday Oct. 12, the large lock is now not expected to return to service until the end of the week, at the earliest.

The maintenance crew is working to restore service. As more information on the large lock status becomes available, updates will be posted on the Corps of Engineers information line at 1-866-596-2635

October 11, 2010

Settlement for Fish Processor

A freezer hold crewman injured in a cargo conveyor belt accident reached a confidential settlement with Blue North Fisheries. The case arose out of an accident in the BLUE ATTU's freezer hold while the vessel was fishing in the Bering Sea.

The crewman suffered a comminuted crush to his index finger that required surgical repair with plates and screws. After his initial surgery, the crewman had two additional surgeries to attempt to regain further motion of his index finger. Unfortunately, despite good care, the crewman was left with residual disabilities that prevented him from returning to work as a fish processor.

October 11, 2010

2.7 Million Dollar Verdict For Injured Fisherman

The First Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a 2.77 million dollar verdict for clam boat crewman Wojciech Bielunas, who suffered a severely fractured foot.

The employer, F/V Misty Dawn, had appealed the verdict as excessive and sought to have the Appellate Court reduce the size of the award. The Appellate Court noted the seriousness of Bielunas' injury and the lifelong suffering that Bielunas was likely to endure.

In refusing to reduce the approximately $2,000,000 in pain and suffering damages, the Court found the award to not be shocking or lavish and refused to upset the decision of the jury and the District Court that heard the evidence. In upholding the award the Court noted that the jury had not acted out of passion or prejudice and had reduced the crewman's gross verdict by 15% for comparative fault.

The First Circuit rejected the vessel owner's attempt to compare Bielunas' verdict to other verdicts from other jurisdictions, finding that each case should stand on its own merit.

October 11, 2010

Chittenden Lock closed Oct. 11 from lightning strike

SEATTLE -- The large lock at the Chittenden Locks in Ballard is closed to vessel traffic today due to an electrical outage from a lightning strike overnight.

The maintenance crew is working to restore service, but the large lock is not expected to return to service until Oct. 12.

October 10, 2010

Coast Guard bill covers safety

President Obama is expected to sign a sweeping authorization bill that reorganizes U.S Coast Guard operations, increases maritime safety rules and calls for improved oil-spill prevention and response in the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

The legislation, largely written by Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington, was blocked by Republican leaders in the Senate for the past four years. To get approval, several provisions were stripped from the bill in the Senate. Then in the House, many of these ideas were put back in and ultimately approved when it came back to the Senate.

What are the most important parts of the bill? Well, that depends on whether you are involved in the Coast Guard, the shipping industry, the fishing fleet or just want to protect against oil spills or terrorists.

Continue reading "Coast Guard bill covers safety" »

October 8, 2010

Chetzemoka makes inaugural sailing.

The first new ferry in Washington state in more than a decade will make its inaugural sailing Sunday, Nov. 14, between Whidbey Island and Port Townsend.

The 64-vehicle MV Chetzemoka, named after the late Klallam Chief Chetzemoka, will be christened by Gov. Chris Gregoire and recognized by the Klallam tribes. Chief Chetzemoka was known as a peaceful man and a wise diplomat who was believed to be about 80 when he died in 1888.

The governor, legislators, state and local officials and an estimated 300 invited guests from communities on both sides of Admiralty Inlet will board the vessel at the Whidbey Island Coupeville (Keystone) terminal following ceremonies. They will take a one-hour cruise to Port Townsend where representatives of the Klallam tribes will conduct a ceremony aboard the Chetzemoka.

Continue reading "Chetzemoka makes inaugural sailing." »

October 8, 2010

Injured Fish Processor Airlifted Off

46-year old fish processor, Mamadou Konato, has been airlifted from the fish processing vessel PACIFIC GLACIER. Konato reportedly suffered severe injuries to his hand while working with machinery aboard the vessel. The accident, 40 miles southwest of Coos Bay, Oregon, is under investigation by the United States Coast Guard.

October 4, 2010

Barge Accident: $1 Billion Loss

Tow boat Safety Quest, pushing three barges of scrap metal, hit the high-line electrical tower which carries lines across the Houston Ship Channel, located at the narrowest point of the shipping artery. The accident occurred at around 6 a.m. Sunday morning, October, 3rd, in Baytown, Texas shutting down the Houston Ship Channel. The city of Baytown is located about 30 miles east of Houston, TX.

Coast Guard Petty Officer Richard Brahm says the channel will be closed until at least Tuesday night. So far, nearly 30 vessels are waiting to cross. Center Point Energy owns the electrical lines which were cut due to the barge accident.

Continue reading "Barge Accident: $1 Billion Loss" »

October 4, 2010

Interior Department: New Offshore Drilling Safty Rules

US Interior Department had been expected to issue two new regulations for oil and gas drilling safety this week. The agency released two new rules that aim to improve drilling safety by establishing stronger requirements for safety equipment, blowout prevention and well control systems.

According to a representative of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, under the new rules, drilling operators will need to comply with stricter standards that cover everything from well- design and cementing practices to worker training. Companies are also required to develop comprehensive risk and hazard management practices and programs. The systems will help reduce the impact of human error and will include proper practices for cementing and casing, a major issue under investigation in the Gulf of Mexico disaster. The rules will also address the appropriate use of drilling fluids and establish the mechanisms in place to oversee systems that are designed to shut off oil and gas flow in an emergency. This includes the blowout preventer as well as all of its components.

Continue reading "Interior Department: New Offshore Drilling Safty Rules" »

October 4, 2010

Fishing Vessel capsizes crossing Tillamook Bar

Coast Guard has reported a 54-foot fishing vessel, DOUBLE EAGLE, capsized Sunday while crossing Oregon's Tillamook Bar.

At 5:30 p.m. the vessel had contacted the Coast Guard to advise they intended to cross the Bar. The Coast Guard dispatched two motor life boats to the bar as a precautionary measure. While crossing the Bar, the DOUBLE EAGLE capsized. The two crewmen were both wearing life vests and were rescued from the water by one of the motor life boats. No injuries are known at this time. The Tillamook Bar is well known to be a dangerous crossing in adverse weather conditions.

October 1, 2010

PSNS Fined for Hazardous Waste Violations

Puget Sound Naval Shipyard has agreed to pay a $56,000 fine for the improper handling and storage of hazardous chemicals, officials say.

The fine was issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency following an unannounced inspection in January 2009. Inspectors from both the EPA and Washington Department of Ecology were involved.

State and federal officials had worked with the shipyard over the years to improve waste-handling techniques, said Jack Boller, an EPA inspector. During the surprise inspection in 2009, "we started finding things that we thought we had addressed years ago."

Among the more serious violations was an open-grated floor in the shipyard's plating shop, where hexavalent chromium was allowed to drip down and accumulate in the basement below.

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