February 2011 Archives

February 28, 2011

First Permit Since BP Catastrophe

The Department of the Interior has issued the first deep water drilling permit in the Gulf of Mexico to Noble Energy, Inc. since the BP Oil Spill, a senior official said Monday.

After a thorough vetting process, Noble Energy Inc. has been granted permission to resume drilling in 6,500 feet of water off the coast of Louisiana. Work on the well was suspended, along with virtually all other drilling activity in water deeper than 5,000 feet, immediately after the Deepwater Horizon accident last April 20, which killed 11 rig workers and spewed nearly five million barrels of oil into the ocean.

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February 28, 2011

Agency Calls for Improved Helicopter Standards

The Canada Transportation Safety Board has completed its investigation of an offshore helicopter crash in 2009 that killed 17 people, and has recommended that helicopter manufacturers increase safety standards on their aircraft to prevent such crashes in the future.

Specifically, the Transportation Safety Board is calling on helicopter manufacturers to ensure that helicopters flying to offshore locations meet the 30-minute standard.  In other words, these helicopters must be able to operate for at least 30 minutes after a major gearbox failure.  Gearbox failure is one of the factors that have been blamed for the Sikorsky helicopter crash that claimed 17 victims in 2009.

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February 22, 2011

Pirates Kill Four Americans

Four Americans who were taken hostage by Somali pirates on their yacht  February 18 off East Africa were shot and killed by their captors, Tuesday, February 22.

The four Americans killed were Jean and Scott Adam, from Southern California, and Phyllis Mackay and Robert Riggle, from Seattle. This is the first time U.S. citizens have been killed in pirate attacks in years.

A member of a U.S. special operations force killed one of the pirates with a knife as he went inside the yacht, said Vice Adm. Mark Fox, commander of U.S. naval forces for the Central Command.

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February 22, 2011

Captain Charged in Ramming

The captain of a boat involved in a collision off the Newfoundland coast has been charged under Canada's maritime laws. Matthew Whalen was the captain of the Marine Voyager, when it was involved in an accident that involved a smaller boat.

Apparently the Marine Voyager collided with another boat and plowed right through it. The other boat had been anchored, and the boat owner apparently saw the ferry coming, but thought that it would avoid him. That didn't happen. The Marine Voyager broadsided the smaller boat, and then just kept going. The boat owner was not injured in the accident.

Investigations later showed that there was a light fog at the time, but not severe enough to impact visibility. Whalen has been charged under the Canada Shipping Act for failing to keep a proper lookout on board his vessel.

February 20, 2011

Offshore Worker Killed

A worker on an Apache-owned offshore platform off the coast of Louisiana died in an accident last week.  The accident occurred on Wednesday morning, when the worker Joseph Bruno, was on a swing rope from a vessel to the offshore platform.  He lost his balance and fell into the water.

Other workers nearby were able to quickly pull him out of the water, but he died soon after.  Bruno was an employee of HIS Fire and Safety Company based in Delcambre.  He was a fire watcher, and had been a part of an HIS team that had been hired by Apache to perform maintenance work on the platform.

February 18, 2011

Deckhand Files Lawsuit

A deckhand has filed a lawsuit against his employer for injuries he sustained in a fall accident. The worker filed a lawsuit against his employer, Florida Marine Transporters. According to the lawsuit, on April 20, 2010, the deckhand was working on the Howard Blank HBI, when he fell down a flight of stairs. In the lawsuit, he alleges that insufficient lighting in the stairwell contributed to his maritime accident.

The lawsuit alleges that Florida Marine Transporters failed to maintain the tugboat in a safe condition, failed to properly illuminate the stairwell, failed to discover and correct the dangerous condition, failed to implement safety procedures and failed to provide safety devices. The lawsuit claims damages for physical pain, mental anguish, suffering, benefits, medical expenses and lost wages among others.

February 17, 2011

BP Official Resigned Over Safety before Oil Spill

HOUSTON, TX - According to a class-action federal lawsuit related to the Deepwater Horizon Gulf oil spill, a former official with BP's drilling operations in the Gulf of Mexico resigned just months before last year's oil spill because of disagreements with the oil giant over its commitment to safety. The Deepwater Horizon rig explosion occurred on April 20, 2010, killing 11 workers and causing the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

Documents that were filed last Monday night in Houston claim Kevin Lacy, BP's former senior vice president for drilling operations for the Gulf of Mexico, reached a mutual agreement with the company to resign in December 2009 because he believed the company was not adequately committed to improving safety protocols in offshore drilling operations to the level of its industry peers.

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February 17, 2011

Shipyard Worker Injured

A shipyard worker was seriously injured in an accident near Chula Vista harbor in California over the weekend. According to Signs on San Diego, the man was working with a crew on disassembling a 124-foot-long barge at the Marine Group Boat Works shipyard. At some point, a beam that the man believed was still attached to the barge, fell on his head and face. He suffered serious facial lacerations, and injured his trachea.

Fire crews transferred to the man to the University of California San Diego Medical Center, where he has now been placed in a medically induced coma. His condition is reported to be critical.

According to police, there was no foul play involved in this incident. The man was wearing a hard hat at the time that could not protect him from facial and neck injuries.

February 16, 2011

Barge Adrift

The BRITTANEY MOE, a 143 foot barge, is adrift in 12 foot seas and 50 mile an hour winds southwest of Kodiak in the Shelikof Strait. The barge had been under tow by the tug SEAHAWK when it was lost early Tuesday morning. Recovery efforts are underway.

February 15, 2011

Investors Sue BP

Attorneys representing BP investors have accused the British oil company of lying about its commitment to safety and inflating company shares for three years before the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon set off the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

The BP investors lawsuit names as defendants the company and current and former executives including CEO Robert W. Dudley, seen here, and former CEO Anthony B. Hayward.

BP management claimed the company had learned its lesson after an accident at a refinery in Texas in 2005 had killed 15 workers and injured hundreds of people, the lawyers said yesterday in a lawsuit brought by institutional investors, including Ohio's pension plan.

Investors discovered after the rig explosion that the company didn't live up to promises in 2007 to increase its focus on safety and maintenance, the lawyers said in an amended complaint filed yesterday.

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February 14, 2011

US Tanker Hijacked

ATHENS -- The Greek-registered tanker Irene SL heading to the US carrying crude oil worth nearly $200 million was hijacked by Somali Pirates in the Indian Ocean on Wednesday, January 9, in one of the biggest hijackings in the area so far.

The hijacking marks a significant shift in piracy and the crisis could "strangle" vital shipping lanes, the association of supertanker owners warned.

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February 13, 2011

Missing kayaker presumed drowned

The search is continuing Sunday morning for the body of a kayaker who reportedly fell out of a boat Saturday afternoon on Lake Washington, near the Newport Shores boat launch.

The search is now being called a recovery, rather than a rescue, because there's little chance the kayaker could have survived in the cold Lake Washington water for very long, said Coast Guard spokesman Nate Littlejohn.

The search was called off late Saturday then resumed at daylight Sunday with help from a Coast Guard helicopter crew, which spent several hours looking for the kayaker, Littlejohn said.

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February 12, 2011

Tugboat Operator Indicted

The operator of a tugboat that was involved in a fatal collision with a fishing boat in June 2010 has been indicted for criminally negligent homicide. Charles Warren Luetke was arrested, and is already out on bail.

The collision occurred on June 19, 2010, when the tugboat was pushing a barge formation of three 200-feet barges. The two fishermen were thrown out of the fishing vessel when it was involved in a collision with the tugboat. They sustained fatal injuries. A third fisherman also sustained injuries, but survived the accident. He has already filed a maritime lawsuit related to the accident.

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February 12, 2011

Three agencies rescue sailors

Personnel from three agencies rescued stranded boaters from the rough waters of Deception Pass Monday morning.

At approximately 7 a.m., two Whidbey Island residents were on a 27-foot sailboat trying to pilot the boat through Deception Pass when the engine failed and it started drifting back out to sea, said Jack Hartt, ranger at Deception Pass State Park.

Once the boat's engine failed, the couple dialed 911 and personnel from the state park, North Whidbey Fire and Rescue and the United States Coast Guard responded.

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February 9, 2011

Girl, 14, Loses Leg

A 14-year-old girl is to have her leg amputated after it got caught in a boat's propeller in an accident in Palm Beach County, Florida, on Saturday. According to the Palm Beach Post, Gabby Desouza is due to undergo surgery to remove her leg today following the incident.

Witnesses described how Miss Desouza and friends ran out to meet the boat. As the boat hovered with its engines revving in shallow water, Miss Desouza apparently tried to jump aboard but moved away as a wave carried the boat towards the shore. When a second wave hit, the boat was thrown into Miss Desouza and two other girls, with the propeller slashing Miss Desouza's leg.

Police are investigating the incident and have yet to decide if charges will be brought.

February 8, 2011

Coast Guard Medevacs Passenger

An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Coast Guard Sector San Diego medically evacuated a passenger from a cruise ship 250 miles southwest of San Diego Sunday evening.

Just after noon, the crew of the cruise ship Oosterdam notified the Coast Guard that the 65-year-old man needed immediate medical assistance. A Coast Guard flight surgeon was consulted and recommended the man be medically evacuated.

At approximately12:30 p.m.,Sunday, a helicopter was launched from Sector San Diego to conduct the medevac. An HC-130 Hercules aircraft crew from Air Station Sacramento supported the medevac by providing long-range visual and communications coverage.
At 4:45 p.m, the helicopter crew hoisted the cruise ship passenger and a nurse, who were then flown to the Sector to be transferred to awaiting emergency medical personnel.

February 8, 2011

Entertainer Dies in Cozumel

A Royal Caribbean International crewmember was found dead in Mexico's Cozumel over the weekend, it has been reported.

32-year-old Monika Markiewicz, a Polish national who was a musician aboard Allure of the Seas, left the ship Friday in Cozumel to head to the beach and never returned. According to a Canadian Press report, Markiewicz' body was recovered off Cozumel's south coast on Saturday.

A statement issued by Royal Caribbean said: "Tragically, we recently became aware that the crew member was a victim of a violent crime while ashore in a remote area in Cozumel." An autopsy revealed that the cause of Markiewicz' death was drowning -- but that she'd also had a blunt trauma to the head. Police are investigating.

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February 4, 2011

BP Warned About Lack of Safety

The Health and Safety Executive in the UK has warned BP about the lack of safety checks at its North Sea facilities. According to the offshore safety regulator, BP is not doing enough to ensure safety at its North Sea oil rigs. It has not been conducting enough safety checks at these rigs. The Health and Safety Executive has given BP time until the month of May this year to enhance safety at several of its rigs, including the Clair, Schiehallion and Eastern Trough Area Project wells.

The notice served by the Health and Safety executive warns the company is not carrying out suitable and sufficient assessments of the risks to employee safety, as well as safety of other crew members working on offshore oil and gas drilling rigs operated and owned by BP. Just last year, BPs operations in the North Sea were the subject of an investigation. The investigation found that new crew members were not being trained sufficiently in basic safety operations. Six months after that investigation wrapped up, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 workers, and injuring several others.

BP insists that it has already taken action to improve its risk assessment and management programs and that its safety performance in the North Sea has improved considerably.

February 4, 2011

Fisherman Dies In Freezing Harbor

NEW BEDFORD, MA - On Tuesday, January 28, 2011, a fisherman died after falling into the icy New England waters while boarding a fishing boat near Eastern Fisheries on Hassey Street in New Bedford, MA. New Bedford is located in Bristol County, Massachusetts in the southwestern part of the state about 58 miles south of Boston.

The victim was later identified as Giuseppi 'Joe' Cracchiolo, 47 years old, from Gloucester, MA. His body was found by a fishing mate floating in the freezing water about 7:30 a.m. the next morning near the fishing boat, the Sunlight, which is a herring vessel based out of Gloucester.

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February 3, 2011

5 Rescued from fishing vessel

SEATTLE - The Coast Guard rescued five people from the 80-foot fishing vessel, Vicious Fisher, 13 miles west of La Push, Wash., Thursday.

The crew of the vessel contacted Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound, in Seattle, at approximately 2 p.m., via VHF Channel 16, reporting the vessel was taking on water and required assistance.

Coast Guard Air Station/Sector Field Office Port Angeles, Wash. launched an MH-65C Dolphin rescue helicopter crew andCoast Guard Station Quillayute River launched a 47-foot Motor Lifeboat (MLB) rescue crew with dewatering equipment.

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February 3, 2011

Evacuated with Burn Injuries

A 46-year-old crew member on the 960-foot motor vessel, YM New Jersey was evacuated after he suffered burn injuries from one of the ship's boilers last month. The incident took place in January 27 on a vessel off the coast of San Francisco.

The vessel was on its way to Panama. There is no information about how burns were sustained, however, his injuries were considered serious. Crew members were able to stabilize him until the Coast Guard rescue team arrived.

February 1, 2011

Injury in Barge Accident

According to the lawsuit, a seaman on the MV Marie M. Morgan, in January this year was injured when the barge was involved in a collision with another barge. The impact caused a refrigerator to fall against the seaman. The seaman sustained serious injuries, including a knee injury after he was trapped against the cabinet countertop and the refrigerator.

The Seaman has now filed a lawsuit against his employer Bayou Tugs Inc. According to him, the barge accident was caused because one of his coworkers who was directing the other barge was working under the influence of an illegal drug. The lawsuit accuses Bayou Tugs Inc., of failure to maintain a safe workplace, failure to train and supervise employees, failure to warn employees about an impending accident, failure to have a maintenance policy, failure to secure the refrigerator, and failure to conduct drug tests on all employees. The lawsuit seeks damages for the plaintiff's medical costs, pain and suffering, mental anguish, physical debilitation, disfigurement and impairment, lost earnings, maintenance and cure.