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October 22, 2018

A 64-year-old crewman suffered a head injury after being struck in the face by a crane hook aboard the ARCTIC STORM. Due to possible complications from blunt force trauma to the head the Coast Guard recommended medical evacuation by helicopter.  The incident happened 25 miles off the Oregon coast.  There is no news about the status of the injured fisherman. The ARTIC STORM is a 270-foot factory trawler that fishes in Alaska, Washington, and Oregon.

All deckhands working with deck cranes on fishing vessels should be properly trained. All hooks, safety hooks, lines, and controls should be kept in safe operating order.  Early reports in this case indicate the crewman was struck by a “loose crane hook”.  Hooks should be secured at all times.

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An 18 year old Alaska Fisherman suffered a hand injury while working aboard the Pacific Harvester.  The vessel was fishing in Prince William Sound.  The captain of the Pacific Harvester contacted the Coast Guard for emergency medical evacuation of the crewman.  A Coast Guard launch from Valdez with a trauma technician on board transported the injured fisherman to the pier in Valdez.  The fact and circumstances of how the crewman was injured is unknown at this time.

Crewman safety aboard fishing vessel is a priority.  In almost all cases following proper safety procedures and having seaworthy equipment can prevent injury accidents from occurring.  The Jones Act and Federal Maritime Law provide protection and benefits to crewman injured while working aboard commercial fishing vessels in Alaska.

 

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A crewman working aboard the Alaska crab boat Patricia Lee was hit in the head by a crab pot Monday evening.  A Coast Guard helicopter crew rescued the man who was suffering from a head injury  symptoms.   The injured crewman was taken to Dutch Harbor for further medical evaluation where he was reported to be in stable condition.

Working on the deck of an Alaska crab boat is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world.  The crewmen who sometimes work in heavy weather conditions are at risk of injury from swinging crab pots that sometimes weigh as much as a thousand pounds. It is important that proper safety procedures be utilized to protect the crew from injuries.

In this case, following the crewman’s injury, the Patricia Lee contacted the Coast Guard for medical advice. The Coast Guard Flight Surgeon recommended that the injured crewman be medevaced from the vessel.  In total because of the Patricia Lee’s distance from shore the medical evacuation involved two separate coast guard crews and involved two different helicopters.

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A 51 year old commercial fisherman has been airlifted from the F/V Devotion 34 miles southwest of Cordova. The vessel called for medical assistance after the crewman suffered a head injury and fell.  The on duty Coast Guard flight surgeon recommended  the crewman be medevac.   The injured crewman was transferred to a nearby tug where a Coast Guard helicopter lifted him to safety.  The crewman was taken to Cordova for emergency medical evaluation.

The facts and circumstances of the crewman’s injury area unknown at this time.  Weather conditions at the scene were reported to be 15 MPH winds with two foot seas.

It is important that all crewman who suffer head injuries while working at sea get emergency medical evaluation to determine the severity of their injuries.  Improperly treated head injuries can cause severe injuries and possible death. Every crew should be trained to contact the Coast Guard Flight Surgeon for medical advice for treatment of a severely injured crewman.

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A 25-year-old crewman, Grant Hildreth has been reported missing after falling overboard from the F/V CAPE GRIEG.  The tragic accident happened on Thursday in Ugashik Bay, Alaska.  Reports indicate the crew of the Cape Grieg tried to save Hildreth by throwing him a flotation device but that Hildreth went under the water and could not be found.   The cause of the accident is unknown at this time and is under investigation.  Hildreth was not wearing a personal flotation device.  Weather at the time of incident was reported to be relatively mild with a strong incoming tide.  The Cape Greig is a 175 foot long fish processing vessel owned by F/V BEAGLE LLC and is home ported in Seattle Washington.

Few accidents at sea are not preventable if proper training and safety procedures are followed.  It is common safety practice aboard Alaska fishing vessel for crewmen working on the deck of a vessel to wear personal flotation work vests.  These vests can save lives, and vessel owners must ensure that safety rules requiring wearing safety vests are enforced.  Fishing vessel safety regulations require fishing boat crews to drill and practice in rescue procedures in the event of a man overboard situation. The maritime lawyers at Johnson Beard & Trueb PC represent the families of crewmen who have been injured or killed working at sea; they have offices located in Anchorage and Seattle.

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Reports have now confirmed Kevin Soule has died in a tragic crab fishing accident on Willapa Bay.  Soule was reported missing by his wife, Heather, on May 19thwhen he did not return home from crab fishing as scheduled. Soule was reportedly fishing alone aboard the 40-foot crab boat KELLI J.  An extensive search lead to the discovery of the sunken vessel on Friday.  The sunken boat was discovered by Sherriff’s personnel in approximately 40 feet of water three miles northwest of Oysterville. Soule body was discovered by divers working to salvage the sunken KELLI J.

The circumstances and cause of the sinking of the KELLI J are unknown.  The sunken vessel was located in an area of Soule’s crab pots and buoys.  Some local fishermen have speculated the vessel possibly sank as a result of winching up on a stuck crab pot. The accident occurred as the dungeness fishing season was winding to a close in Willapa Bay.

The Nahcotta based KELLI J was owned by Shoalwater Seafoods LLC.  Reports indicate that the vessel was equipped with an EPIRB, however, the electronic locating device did not activate.  The accident has struck a terrible blow to Soule’s wife and two young daughters.

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Four crewmen were rescued from a life raft Sunday night after the F/V MT Tamgas capsized 12 miles off the Oregon Coast.  The captain of the MT Tamgas radio issued a mayday call reporting his vessel was capsizing and the four crewmen were abandoning ship into the vessel’s life raft. A Coast Guard helicopter rescued the crewmen and transported the crew to Tillamook Bay for emergency medical assessment.  One of the crewmen was reported to be suffering from symptoms of hypothermia. The facts and circumstances of the capsizing are unknown at this time.   Vessel documentation indicates the 54-foot long MT Tamgas is a steel hulled vessel built in 1966 and owned by Travenshek Fisheries.  The vessel is home ported in Warrenton, Oregon.

The commercial fishing fleet in Washington and Oregon has recently experienced an increasing number of fishing vessel sinkings. Fortunately, the Coast Guard has been there to rescue many of the crews of these vessels.  However, vessel safety starts with a properly maintained vessel, and a vessel fully equipped with safety equipment, and a properly trained crew. We are thankful the crew of MT Tamgas was rescued from a very dangerous situation.

Johnson Beard & Trueb PC are maritime lawyers who represent fishermen injured fishing in Oregon, Washington, and Alaska.  Their experience includes handling commercial vessel sinking cases such as the Aleutian Enterprise, Alaska Ranger, Arctic Rose, Lady Cecelia,  Sara Jo, Nesika and many others.

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A crewman was discovered missing and presumed overboard off a 587-foot oil tanker near Cold Bay, Alaska.   The 23-year-old crewman was reported to have fallen overboard off the M/V CHALLENGE PRELUDE, a Hong Kong registered vessel bound for Anchorage. On Sunday, after discovering the missing crewman the vessel reversed course along its original track in attempts to locate the missing crewman. Coast Guard aerial search for the missing man was to resume today. Mild weather was reported in the area with winds of 9 mph and seas of three feet. Water temperature was estimated at 39 degrees. The circumstances of how the man fell over board are unknown. It is also unknown whether or not he was wearing a work floatation type vest.

In other Alaska fishing news on Friday the Coast Guard medevac’d a 44-year-old man from the F/V SAINTE PETER. The injured crewman was reported unconscious and unresponsive by the vessel Captain. A Coast Guard helicopter hoisted the man from the vessel and transported him 60 miles to Dutch Harbor for medical assessment. The Coast Guard stated: “Saving lives is one of our missions,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Trevor Frommherz, District 17 command center search and rescue controller. “The Coast Guard is on call 24 hour a day, seven days a week. We have assets and personnel available to assist in all weather conditions and in any type of situation, as we are always ready.”

The on call Coast Guard flight surgeon is valuable for all fishing vessels working in Alaska. The Coast Guard may be contacted for medical advise about how to treat an injured or ill crewman and may help access the need to emergency medical evaluation. Early treatment for injured or ill crewman can be the difference between life and death. Don’t put fishing profits over a crewman’s safety, get a seriously injured or ill crewman to shore for treatment as soon as possible.

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The Alaska Ranger sank in the Bering Sea on March 23, 2008 resulting in one of the Coast Guard’s most extensive investigations into the cause of a sinking of a commercial fishing vessel. Owned by the Fishing Company of Alaska the Alaska Ranger was a 185-foot long catcher processor and carried a crew of 47 fishermen. Five crewmen lost their lives when the vessel sank, and many of the 42 surviving crewmen spent hours in the pitch black freezing water before being rescued in one of the Coast Guard’s most heroic efforts.

The Coast Guard and National Transportation held public Coast Guard Casualty hearings in an attempt to determine the cause of the Alaska Ranger’s sinking. Multiple expert and witnesses testified at the hearing, including Rodney Lundy, the vessel’s assistant engineer. Lundy, a critical witness, was the assistant engineer on watch at the time the vessel began to take on flooding in its engine room.

The Seattle Times has extensively covered the cause and circumstances surrounding the Alaska Ranger sinking. The Times is now reporting on the ten-year anniversary of the vessel sinking that Lundy is now disclosing new critical information that was withheld from his testimony during the hearings in 2008. The Seattle Times reports that Lundy now claims he complained to the Alaska Ranger’s Japanese fish master about nets being stacked on deck around the engine room vents. Lundy reportedly claims that as the vessel sank the nets stacked around the starboard engineer room vent prevented him from closing the vent and allowing seawater to down flood directly into the engine room. According to the Seattle Times report: Lundy says two Fishing Company of Alaska officials, at different times, told him to keep quiet about the problems he had trying to close the vent. The officials identified by Lundy were unavailable to provide comment to the Seattle Times reporter

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Fishermen Finest choose to build their new 265-foot catcher processor in local American Shipyard, Dakota Creek. The 265-foot vessel carried a price tag of 75 million dollars and the vessel was the newest and largest catcher processor to be built in the United States in over 30 years. Fishermen’s Finest is a local Kirkland based company, which employs hundreds of crewmen to work on their vessels as fish processors in Alaska. The construction of the vessel meant hundreds of jobs for local shipyard workers. Building the F/V American Finest in the United States was a feel good story about supporting American shipbuilding and the American fisheries.

But there is now a 75 million dollar problem caused by Dakota Creek mistakenly using too much foreign steel in construction of the vessel. Federal Regulations for new vessels constructed to fish in United State waters only allow for 1.5 percent of the vessel’s weight to be made from foreign steel. Dakota Creek made a mistake and the 265-foot F/V America Finest contains an estimated ten percent of foreign steel most of which is from Holland. The vessel now sits unfinished and the owners are reportedly preparing to put the vessel up for sale to foreign interest that would be able to use the vessel in waters not under the jurisdiction of the United States.

Fishermen’s Finest and Dakota Creek sought a legislative fix to the problem of having too much foreign steel in the vessel. Other fishing companies opposed a waiver that would allow the vessel to fish. Washington State Senator Cantwell and Alaska State Senator Sullivan have been negotiating over the terms of a compromise to allow the vessel to enter the American fishery. A waiver to allow the American Finest to fish in United States water failed to make it into the 1.3 million dollar spending bill signed President Trump on Friday. Although there is still hope for a regulatory exemption to be passed, such a fix is becoming increasingly doubtful.