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December 11, 2015

Dangerous Weather Aleutians and Bering Sea

JUNEAU, Alaska -- The Coast Guard urges mariners to use caution with the onset of heavy weather expected to affect the Aleutian Islands and Bering Sea, this weekend.

The Coast Guard has notified the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Mellon, patrolling in the Bering Sea with an embarked Air Station Kodiak MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew, to standby to assist mariners.

Capt. Diane Durham, chief of response, 17th District, said,. "We are encouraging all mariners to monitor National Weather Service reports and take appropriate safety precautions, such as pulling into a safe harbor or taking shelter in the lee of an island, in order to safeguard their crews."

On Wednesday, the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration's National Weather Service forecasted that the storm will include hurricane force winds, 45-foot seas and possible coastal flooding in Western Alaska.

Please visit the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration's Website at www.arh.noaa.gov for the most up to date information on the storm.

In order to learn more about preparing for emergency situations please visit the Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management's Website at www.ak-prepared.com.

October 14, 2015

$100,000,000 lawsuit filed after sinking

A lawyer representing the family of Lonnie Jordan, an El Faro crew member, has filed a $100 million lawsuit against TOTE Service Inc. and TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico, as well as the El Faro captain. The ship sank off the Bahamas on October 1st, and search and rescue ended after eight days. On October 5th, the U.S. Coast Guard found a body of a crewmember in a survival suit.

The lawsuit was filed family by attorney Willie E. Gary. Gary has accused the company of negligence and putting profit ahead of the lives of its employees. "We hope to get to the bottom of this," Gary said. "We are at war now."

"Tote Services, negligently permitted the El Faro to sail out to sea despite being in an unseaworthy condition to handle the conditions of a violent storm," the lawsuit states.

Continue reading "$100,000,000 lawsuit filed after sinking" »

October 13, 2015

Enclosed area death and injury reach unacceptable rates

A shift in the approach to safety management of enclosed spaces on board ships is needed. Fifteen years ago, while working as an independent surveyor, I was carrying out a condition survey on board a bulk carrier. The scope of the survey included testing the emergency generator, located in the steering flat and accessed by an inclined ladder.

Accompanied by the superintendent and the chief engineer, we had no sooner reached the bottom of the space when the chief engineer urgently ordered us all out. By the time we had exited the space, within seconds, we were all in a state of dizziness and confusion, compounded by our inability to comprehend what had just occurred. Further investigation revealed that Freon gas had leaked from refrigeration machinery located in the steering flat and being heavier than air, had migrated into the emergency generator space, displacing breathable air. It was a lucky escape. Victims of asphyxiation in enclosed spaces deficient in oxygen will normally receive no such warning that anything is wrong or have the ability to quickly escape.

Continue reading "Enclosed area death and injury reach unacceptable rates" »

July 28, 2015

Dutch Harbor Medevac

A Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew medevaced an injured mariner from a fish-processing vessel in Beaver Inlet, near Dutch Harbor, Tuesday.

The Dolphin helicopter crew launched from Cold Bay, where they were staged overnight for a different case, and safely hoisted the injured man for transport to emergency medical services in Dutch Harbor.

The crew of the Northern Victor, a 360-foot fish-processing vessel, notified the Coast Guard 17th District command center of the injured crewmember, reportedly suffering from a swollen leg, Tuesday morning.

After transporting the injured man to Dutch Harbor, commercial services arranged a flight out of Dutch Harbor to a higher level of medical care.

Weather on scene was reported as light wind and calm seas.

July 28, 2015

NORTHERN VICTOR - Injured mariner Medevaced

An injured mariner was medevaced from a fish-processing vessel in Beaver Inlet, near Dutch Harbor, Tuesday.

The Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew launched from Cold Bay, where they were staged overnight for a different case, and safely hoisted the injured man for transport to emergency medical services in Dutch Harbor.

The crew of the Northern Victor, a 360-foot fish-processing vessel, notified the Coast Guard 17th District command center of the injured crewmember, reportedly suffering from a swollen leg, Tuesday morning.

After transporting the injured man to Dutch Harbor, commercial services arranged a flight out of Dutch Harbor to a higher level of medical care.

Weather on scene was reported as light wind and calm seas.

February 15, 2015

Crewman fingers severed

285' Factory Trawler AMERICAN TRIUMPH called the Coast Guard on Feb 12, 2015 to report that a 36-year old man had two of his fingers severed by a steel door.

A Coast Guard Jayhawk helicopter crew from Cold Bay flew 92 miles north to the trawler, safely medevaced the man, and flew him back to Cold Bay for emergency medical services.

The factory trawler AMERICAN TRIUMPH (previously named ACONA) was built by the Albina Engine & Machine Works in Portland, Oregon, in 1961.

March 1, 2014

OCEAN PHOENIX MedEvac # 3

For the third time this month, a Coast Guard helicopter has retrieved a medical patient off the Bering Sea processing ship Ocean Phoenix.

Tuesday Feb 25 medevac involved a crewman, described as 25 to 30 years old, with a "severe injury to his left hand," the Coast Guard said. The 680-foot Ocean Phoenix was 85 miles northwest of Cold Bay. Coast Guard medevaced the man from OCEAN PHOENIX via helicopter to Cold Bay, and from there he was taken to Providence Medical Center in Anchorage.

The crewman's name and current condition have not been released. At the time of his medevac, winds were at 35mph winds with 10-foot seas.

Previously this month: February 16, one of the crewmen was medevaced for an eye injury, February 13, a 25-year-old crewmember was medevaced because she was experiencing chest pains.

February 20, 2014

OCEAN PHOENIX crewman eye injury

OCEAN PHOENIX crew members contacted the Coast Guard, requesting a medevac for a 30-year-old crewmate who had suffered an eye injury about 34 miles northwest of Cold Bay, Alaska, on Sunday morning.

The Jayhawk crew located the 680-foot fish processing vessel and safely transported the patient to emergency medical services in Cold Bay for a commercial flight to Anchorage for further treatment. The man's name and current condition have not been released.

Seas during the medevac were reported to be eight to ten feet with low visibility and 28mph winds, including intermittent squalls.

"This is the third medevac in a week the forward operating location in Cold Bay has responded to," said Chief Petty Officer Christopher Cole, a watchstander with the Coast Guard 17th District. "FOLs are strategically placed throughout Alaska to minimize the time it takes to respond to incidents like we've seen this week."

February 15, 2014

KATIE ANNE Storm Damage and Injury

Factory trawler 295 foot KATIE ANN had her windows blown out on the bridge on Friday night about 9pm, northwest of Unimak Island, by storm winds which also caused land based damage. The incident was reported in the early morning of Sat, July 8,

The KATIE ANN did not lose power and proceeded to Unalaska, arriving at the Kloosterboer dock without assistance in late afternoon. According to reports, about six crew members were injured and treated at the local clinic, none required further treatment.

January 14, 2014

Eye injury Medevac

A crewman aboard PROWLER, a 109-foot vessel based in Petersburg, was 74 miles southwest of St. Paul, Alaska, when a crewman required emergency medical care for a left-eye injury. The crewman was taken aboard Coast Guard Cutter Munro for assessment, and was airlifted to St. Paul for treatment. Weather at the time of his medevac was reported as calm seas, 11mph winds, and rain showers.

November 27, 2012

$300,000 in EPA Violation fines

Aleutian Spray Fisheries, Inc., Ocean Peace, Inc., and United States Seafoods, LLC, have each been fined by the EPA for violations of the Clean Water Act. Four vessels from these three companies were found to have violated seafood waste discharge permit regulations in Alaskan waters. Such waste must be ground to an half-inch or less in order to facilitate waste dispersal at sea, and appropriate records of sample-taking and regular inspections must be maintained on board each vessel. The EPA found the Aleutian Spray and United States Seafoods violations in 2011 and the Ocean Peace violation in 2010.

Aleutian Spray will pay $120,000 to settle violations by F/V SIBERIAN SEA and F/V LIBERATOR for not keeping inspection records on the seafood waste treatment systems, and for not reporting vessel operation and discharge, between 2007 and 2011.

United States Seafoods was fined almost $90,600 for the failure of F/T OCEAN ALASKA to keep seafood waste treatment systems inspection records between 2007 and 2011.

Ocean Peace was fined $98,000 for F/T OCEAN PEACE not adhering to the half-inch grinding regulation, not taking waste samples, and not keeping seafood waste treatment system inspection records between 2007 and 2010.

March 8, 2012

Alaskan Trawler Injuries

Within a week, in separate incidents on separate trawlers in Alaska, two men have suffered head injuries from on-board cables.

On Thursday morning, March 1, Andrew Fotu, aged 25, of Seattle, was struck in the head by a snapped cable while working aboard F/V ALASKA JURIS, a 238-foot Fishing Company of Alaska factory trawler. A rescue swimmer, who was lowered from one of the two helicopters deployed by the Coast Guard, determined that Mr. Fotu had died. The ALASKA JURIS crew transported the young man's body to Unalaska.

Monday morning another head injury caused by a cable on board a fishing vessel in Alaska resulted in the Coast Guard emergency medevac by helicopter of 47-year-old Franz D'Alquen to Cold Bay Clinic for initial medical care. Mr. D'Alquen will receive further care in Anchorage. This occurred aboard F/V ALASKA OCEAN, a 376-foot factory trawler owned by Glacier Fish Company of Seattle.

November 2, 2010

Crewman Airlifted from Fishing Vessel

A 22-year old crewman suffering abdominal pains was evacuated by helicopter from the fishing processor PACIFIC GLACIER located about 40 miles west of Grays Harbor. The crewman was taken to Grays Harbor hospital for evaluation and treatment.

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

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.