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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.

December 11, 2015

Oregon Washington Maritime Entrances Closed by Storm

The Coast Guard has closed all maritime entrances in the Pacific Northwest, Friday, due to severe  sea conditions and large amounts of debris in the water.

In Oregon, the ports of Chetco River in Brookings; Coos Bay; Umpqua River in Winchester Bay; Siuslaw River in Florence; Yaquina Bay in Newport; Depoe Bay; Tillamook Bay in Girabaldi; and the Columbia River are closed to all traffic. 

In Washington the port of Grays Harbor in Westport; and Quillayute River in LaPush are closed.

Several storms carrying strong winds and heavy rainfall crossed the Pacific Northwest over the last week and have caused flooding and landslides in parts of Oregon and Washington.

Flood waters and landslides have caused large amounts of debris to flow in the river systems causing potential problems with maritime traffic.

The Coast Guard encourages all boaters and mariners operating in the inland rivers to be aware of potential floating debris and debris below the surface and report any major issues with navigational channels to the Coast Guard.

Capt. Dan Travers, commander Sector Columbia River and Captain of the Port for all ports in Oregon and Southwest Washington said, "The storms that we all experienced over the last several days have made it dangerous for mariners to transit in and out of our many rivers due to severe sea conditions and debris."

For updated river entrance observations and conditions visit the NOAA Western U.S. Bar Observation site.

October 23, 2015

Search for overboard ferry passenger - update

Update:
Search for a possible man overboard after confirming with ferry staff no one had gone missing from their vessel during it's sailing in Puget Sound, Wash., Wednesday around 7:47 p.m.

Washington State Ferry personnel reviewed their videotapes, finding no sign of a passenger going overboard, and confirmed no items, bike or car had been left aboard.

Coast Guard and local response crews, which included the Seattle Harbor Patrol and Fire Boat Leschi, conducted nine searches and covered more than 141 square miles during search efforts.

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Local agencies are responding to a report of a possible man overboard from the Washington State Ferry Puyallup in Puget Sound, Wednesday.

A 45-foot Response Boat-Medium crew from Coast Guard Station Seattle, an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Port Angeles, the crew of Coast Guard Cutter Sea Lion, an 87-foot Coastal Patrol Boat homeported in Port Angeles, Bainbridge Island Police Department, Seattle Fire and Police Departments are involved in the search.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound received the initial report from a ferry passenger at 5 p.m.

Weather on scene is reportedly air temperature of 62 degrees, water temperature of 65 degrees and 6 mph winds.

October 16, 2015

Judge suspends mariner's credentials

A U.S. Administrative Law Judge suspended the merchant mariner credential of Cindy Stahl of Bainbridge Island for six months on Oct. 7, 2015 for operating a commercial towing vessel with an invalid credential.

On Feb. 17, 2015, Stahl wrongfully assumed direction and control of the towing vessel Shannon in Elliot Bay with an invalid credential in violation of U.S. laws and regulations. 
Stahl's credential was suspended at the time as a result of a previous violation during which she endangered the crew and passengers aboard multiple Washington State ferries by purposely hindering their safe transit in Elliot Bay near Seattle on Oct. 7, 2014.

Stahl had also previously been issued a Letter of Warning by the Coast Guard in March 2013 and had her credential suspended for three months in September 2013, both for other violations of U.S. laws and regulations.  

October 16, 2015

Search for overdue mariner

Coast Guard crews are searching Bristol Bay for a mariner reported overdue between Egegik and Ugashik, Thursday.

Roland Briggs, the lone mariner aboard the 50-foot landing craft Ketivik, was due in Egegik Wednesday afternoon, according to a family member.

Coast Guard crews currently involved in the search include an HC-130 Hercules aircraft crew and an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak and the Coast Guard Cutter Munro crew. A good Samaritan also assisted in the search using a small aircraft on Thursday.

At this time, crews have covered 6,339 square miles using search patterns. On Thursday evening, the Hercules crew spotted debris matching the description of gear on Briggs' vessel. Coast Guard 17th District command center watchstanders are using the finding to hone search patterns.

Weather on scene is reported as 2-foot seas, 20-mph winds and 10 miles of visibility.
Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of Briggs should contact the 17th District command center at 907-463-2000.

October 16, 2015

Search for overdue mariner - update

Update:
The Coast Guard suspended its search for a missing mariner in Bristol Bay, near Ugashik, Saturday.

Response crews covered more than 8,000 square miles, an area approximately the size of New Jersey, during the 54-hour search for Roland Briggs, after receiving a report from his family Thursday morning that he failed to return from a trip from Egegik.

Coast Guard units involved in the search included multiple HC-130 Hercules airplane crews and MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crews from Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak, the Coast Guard Cutter Munro, and the MH-65 Dolphin helicopter deployed aboard the Munro. Good Samaritans also assisted in the search using a small aircraft and vessels in the immediate area.

"Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Mr. Briggs, making the decision to suspend a search is never easy for a search and rescue mission coordinator," said Petty Officer 1st Class Jared Buchmiller, an operations specialist at the Coast Guard 17th District command center. "We are grateful for the gracious hospitality of the Pilot Point community, who assisted our MH-65 crew while they landed at the airfield for repairs."


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Coast Guard crews are searching Bristol Bay for a mariner reported overdue between Egegik and Ugashik, Thursday.

Roland Briggs, the lone mariner aboard the 50-foot landing craft Ketivik, was due in Egegik Wednesday afternoon, according to a family member.

Coast Guard crews currently involved in the search include an HC-130 Hercules aircraft crew and an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak and the Coast Guard Cutter Munro crew. A good Samaritan also assisted in the search using a small aircraft on Thursday.

At this time, crews have covered 6,339 square miles using search patterns. On Thursday evening, the Hercules crew spotted debris matching the description of gear on Briggs' vessel. Coast Guard 17th District command center watchstanders are using the finding to hone search patterns.

Weather on scene is reported as 2-foot seas, 20-mph winds and 10 miles of visibility.

Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of Briggs should contact the 17th District command center at 907-463-2000.

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" »

October 2, 2015

Agencies respond to spill at Port of Astoria, Ore.

The Coast Guard, and other local agency personnel are responding to a diesel fuel spill from a Panamanian-flagged bulk carrier at Pier 1 in Astoria, Friday morning. The vessel had reportedly hit the pier while pulling in, sustained damage and was leaking diesel oil from a 4-foot gash in the hull on the port side above the waterline.

Incident Management Division investigators from Coast Guard Sector Columbia River are on scene with the 565-foot vessel Global Gold and the pier has been surrounded by protective boom.

Sector Columbia River watchstanders received the initial report from a facility security officer at approximately 12:50 a.m.

September 13, 2015

96ft Tug CHALLENGER sunk

Coast Guard Sector Juneau personnel responded to the sinking of the 96-foot tug Challenger in Juneau's Gastineau Channel, Sunday.

Sector Juneau responders have deployed 400-feet of containment boom at the site of the sinking and are monitoring for further signs of pollution.

Sector Juneau command center watchstanders received the report of the sinking vessel Saturday afternoon and began broadcasting a Notice to Mariners to warn local vessel operators of the hazard to navigation in the channel.

Sector Juneau response personnel opened the pollution response fund to manage the case federally.

Southeast Alaska Lighterage and Global Diving have been contracted to evaluate removing pollution sources on the tug on Monday.

The cause of the incident is under investigation.

September 12, 2015

M/V PEGASUS HIGHWAY detained for safety violations

Motor vessel Pegasus Highway was detained by the Coast Guard in the port of Tacoma, Wednesday, due to safety deficiencies including an inoperable fire detection system.

The vessel will be required to remain in port until the deficiencies are rectified. 

A Port State Control exam team from Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound conducted a routine Port State and International Ship and Port Facility Security exam aboard the Pegasus Highway, a 590-foot, Panamanian-flagged Roll on/ Roll off vessel. While aboard, the Coast Guard discovered multiple areas that did not meet regulations set forth in the Safety of Life at Sea Convention.   

The most severe deficiency involved a fire detection system that was found to be inoperable. Without a properly functioning fire detection system, a fire on a deck carrying vehicles could have burned without the crew receiving an early warning.

During a Port State Control exam, the Coast Guard inspects fire protection, life saving, machinery, navigation, and pollution control systems as well as assesses the crew's ability to respond to onboard emergencies.  A vessel that is determined to be substandard is subject to a detention and must remain in port until it can proceed to sea without presenting a danger to persons on board or without presenting an unreasonable threat of harm to the marine environment.

August 17, 2015

Unified Command responds to diesel spill in Sitka Sound

A Unified Command has been formed to respond to a release of diesel fuel from the Jarvis St. Power Plant over the weekend.

Coast Guard Sector Juneau, Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation pollution responders from Juneau and members of Marine Safety Detachment Sitka are coordinating clean-up efforts with the City of Sitka, National Park Service and tribal organizations.

City of Sitka personnel received a report Saturday of diesel washing ashore in Sitka Sound. City of Sitka notified MSD Sitka personnel who responded and recovered approximately 50 gallons of diesel.

The source was identified from the Jarvis St. Power Plant, Sunday, which had released an estimated 30,000 gallons of diesel into the storage tank facility's secondary containment. An estimated 2,500 gallons of diesel leaked into the storm drain system and into Sitka Sound due to a reported failure of the drain valve.

The models suggest that the amount of diesel that has evaporated since the release is significant.

The containment drain was secured and all diesel in the containment was pumped out recovering an estimated 23,000 gallons. 

An aggressive response has been mounted to minimize the amount of diesel reaching Sitka Sound.  Recovery of oil in the storm drain system and at the outfall of the storm drain with containment boom absorbent materials continues.

There were no reports of injuries, no confirmed reports of impacts to wildlife or the resources of the National Park.

"Cleanup efforts are continuing and we hope to mitigate the effects of the spill and remove the threat of pollution to the environment as quickly as possible," said Chief Warrant Officer Michael Wortman, federal on-scene coordinator. "The Coast Guard will continue to work alongside our federal, state, and local partner agencies in response to this spill."
The cause of the spill is currently under investigation.

August 3, 2015

Recreational-Commercial Vessel collisions

The Coast Guard is investigating a possible collision between a commercial vessel and recreational vessels during the Red Bull Flugtag event on the Willamette River near Tom McCall Waterfront Park, Saturday.

An investigating officer from Marine Safety Unit Portland visited the motor vessel Portland Spirit and conducted interviews with crewmembers on Sunday.

MSU Portland revoked the marine event permit for the Red Bull Flugtag event Saturday afternoon, before the reported collision, for the safety of the waterway and the safety of all waterway users.  Spectators were obstructing the channel and restricted its use by waterway users.  The Red Bull event staff was unable to control event spectators and as a result could not prevent hazardous conditions as required by the event permit. 

Event organizers are required by the marine event permit to ensure no restriction is placed on the use of navigable waters by participants or spectators, and that the event shall not obstruct any channel or normal shipping lane, or interfere with any aid to navigation.

Coast Guard personnel on scene observed more than 500 recreational vessels, personal watercraft and paddlecraft. Event organizers listed the expected number of spectator craft at 100 vessels on their marine event permit application.

A Coast Guard boatcrew from Coast Guard Station Portland and three Coast Guard Auxiliary vessels were on scene to assist event organizers in maintaining a clear waterway and respond to any emergent issues involving spectator safety.  Throughout the day, watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Columbia River in Warrenton, Ore., broadcast a safety marine information broadcast instructing spectators to make way and clear the channel to allow commercial traffic to safely transit the area.

The Coast Guard is investigating any actions taken by parties on the water that may have been in violation of maritime law or federal navigation rules.

July 14, 2015

52-year-old Medevaced 150 miles south of Kodiak, Alaska

A Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak aircrew medevaced a 52-year-old man from the 600-foot cargo vessel Elsa, approximately 150 miles south of Kodiak, Tuesday.

The MH-60 Jayhawk crew safely hoisted the man and transported him to Kodiak Providence Medical Center for further care.

Watchstanders from Coast Guard District 17 command center received a report Monday evening from the crew of the Elsa that the crewmember was suffering from symptoms of a stroke. Watchstanders conferred with the duty flight surgeon who recommended 4-hour scheduled communications with the vessel to monitor the crewmember's condition.
Tuesday afternoon the crew reported to watchstanders that the crewmember was suffering from convulsions. Watchstanders notified the duty flight surgeon who recommended immediate medevac.

Weather on scene was reported as 15-mph winds and 8-foot seas.

June 5, 2015

Grounded barge Bethel, Alaska

Coast Guard is responding to a barge grounded on the Kongiganak River near Bethel Friday.

The barge DBL165-1 grounded Wednesday with 50,000 gallons of jet fuel, 17,000 gallons of diesel fuel and 1,000 gallons of regular unleaded fuel aboard while being pushed by the tug vessel Nanchik. Attempts at re-floating the barge at high tide have failed.

An examination of the barge revealed no damage to the tanks or hull. A Coast Guard C-130 Hercules plane crew from Air Station Kodiak conducted an over flight of the vessel. No pollution or injuries have been reported.

"Our way forward is to continue working with the vessel owner and response crews to re-float the barge," said Cmdr. Shane Montoya, deputy commander, Sector Anchorage. "The safety of responders and the environment are our top priorities, and there have not been any reports or signs of pollution."

A Coast Guard pollution responder and marine inspector are scheduled to conduct onsite assessments of the response.

The weather on scene is calm with good visibility.