Articles Posted in Alaska Fishing News

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A 31-year-old crewman has been medically evacuated from the commercial fishing vessel Baranoff.  The medivac involved long distance coordination of Coast Guard emergency flight personnel and equipment. At the time of the incident the 196-foot-long Baranoff was located 300 miles northwest of St. Paul Island. The injured crewman was subsequently transferred to Anchorage for medical evaluation and treatment.  The circumstances of the crewman’s injury are currently unavailable.

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85 Crewmen on board an American Seafoods vessel have tested positive for the COVID 19 virus.  The crew are aboard an Alaska fish catcher processor commercial fishing vessel.  The infection has broken out aboard the 272-foot-long American Dynasty.  85 of the 123 crewmen on board have returned positive test results for the COVID 19 virus.  One crewman has been hospitalized while the other crewmen are in quarantine.

The American Dynasty is one of six factory trawlers owned by American Seafoods Company.  The vessels concentrate their commercial fishing operations in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska. The vessels also fish for hake off the Oregon and Washington Coast.  

American Seafoods’ press releases indicate the crew of the American Dynasty had all been placed in a five-day quarantine and all been tested for the virus before the vessel left for the fishing grounds around May 16, 2020.  All crewman reportedly tested negative for the virus at that time.  In contrast to American Seafoods preemployment five-day quarantine, other fishing companies have been using a 14-day quarantine procedure.

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A seriously injured Alaska fisherman has been airlifted from the IRENE H.  The injury happened about three miles south of Sitkinak.  Few details of the accident are currently available and the limited information available indicates the crewman suffered an arm injury.  More details will be available from the USCG 2692 casualty report.  Weather conditions at the time of the incident were reported to be 25 MPH winds with 10-12 seas.

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The crew of the Fishing Vessel Masonic put on survival suits and abandoned ship into the vessel life raft on Tuesday.  The 62 foot Masonic went aground near Coronation Island south east of Sitka and the crew radioed a May Day to the Coast Guard.  All crewmen have been rescued by a Coast Guard Helicopter.  The cause of the incident is unknown at this time and will be subject to further investigation.  The crew of the Masonic was prepared for an emergency and had reportedly recently undergone Coast Guard dockside examination.

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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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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.

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February 21, 2018

A Coast Guard helicopter stationed at Cold Bay has airlifted a crewman from the Alaska fishing vessel Golden Alaska. The incident happened Tuesday about 60 miles northeast of Cold Bay.

The crewman was reported to have stroke symptoms. The Golden Alaska is a 307-foot Alaska fishing processing vessel owned by Golden Alaska Seafoods. The vessel works together with six catcher boats under the mother ship concept. The catcher boats catch the fish and deliver the fish to the Golden Alaska where the fish are processed at sea by crewmen aboard the vessel.

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The Coast Guard airlifted an unconscious crewman from the Alaska fishing vessel Island Enterprise on Friday.   The 57-year-old man was reportedly found unconscious in the vessel’s freezer hold. The 300-foot-long catcher processor vessel is owned by Trident Seafoods. The vessel was fishing approximately 57 miles northeast from Cold Bay. Weather conditions were reported to be 16 mph winds with eight-foot seas.

The Coast Guard was contacted by Health Force Partners who assisted in coordinating the medevac of the crewman. Health Force Partners is an emergency medical service utilized by many Alaska commercial fishing vessels. In this case after being contacted by Health Force Partners the Coast Guard Flight surgeon recommended immediate evacuation of the crewman from the vessel.   A helicopter pre-staged at Cold Bay was dispatched to rescue the man from the vessel. The crewman was returned to Cold Bay where a Guardian Flight Service crew was waiting to transfer the man to Anchorage for further medical care. The details of this particular accident aboard the Island Enterprise are currently unknown.

Injury accidents frequently occur in the freezer holds of factory trawlers. Injuries may involve falling fifty-pound bags or frozen boxes, conveyor belt injuries, lifting accidents, and slip and falls. In cases involving head injuries or an unconscious crewman, the crewman should immediately be accessed by qualified medical personnel to determine the extent of the injury.

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