Articles Posted in Vessel Sinkings

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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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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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On Wednesday, the Coast Guard rescued five fishermen from a sinking fishing vessel off the coast of Washington. The 87-foot commercial fishing vessel Sunnfjord radioed the Coast Guard for help when they were in danger of sinking due to flooding. The five crewmen had put on survival suits and were prepared to abandon the vessel. The Coast Guard dispatched four motor rescue boats and a helicopter to aid in the rescue of the fishermen. The Coast Guard was able to arrive on the scene and rescue the crewmen before the Sunnfjord sank. All crewmen are reported safe and were transported to Neah Bay for further evaluation. The cause of the Sunnfjord sinking is unknown and under investigation. Early reports indicate the vessel was unable to control progressive flooding in the engine room. The vessel sank approximately six miles west of Cape Alva.

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Two crewmen were rescued by the Coast Guard after their fishing vessel caught fire and sank. The incident happened 20 miles west of Cape Blanco. The two fishermen aboard the 47-foot vessel were able to escape to a life raft before the fire consumed the vessel. A lighthouse keeper at Cape Blanco noticed the burning vessel and reported it to the Coast Guard. The details of how the vessel caught fire are unknown at this time.

All vessels must be prepared for emergencies such as this. Fire aboard vessels at sea are extremely dangerous because of the difficulty in fighting the fire. Safety equipment such as fire extinguishers, life rafts, EPIRBS, and VHF radios all should be updated and kept in working order.

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Two commercial fishermen were airlifted to safety by a Coast Guard helicopter crew on July 8, 2017. The two crewmen were aboard the 40-foot commercial fishing vessel New Faith and were fishing approximately 52 miles west of Coos Bay.   The crew issued a May Day call stating their vessel was taking on water and sinking. The vessel had been fishing for Albacore tuna and reportedly had one ton of tuna on board and 300 gallons of diesel. The captain of the vessel and the crewmen were airlifted by separate helicopters after attempts to dewater the vessel with the aid of a Coast Guard rescue swimmer failed. The crew of the New Faith was transported to North Bend for medical evaluation and were released without reported injuries.

The cause of the sinking of the New Faith is unknown at this time. Commercial fishing vessels continue to sink at an alarming rate off the Washington and Oregon coast. It is imperative that vessels are equipped with proper safety equipment, including survival suits. The crew of commercial vessels should regularly drill in emergency procedures. All vessels must be kept in a seaworthy condition, and a regular maintenance and repair schedule be followed. The safety of the crew of the vessel is paramount, and any needed repairs threatening the safety of the crew should not be ignored.   In this case the actions of our Coast Guard search and rescue teams saved another fishing vessel crew’s life.

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Quick action by an Ilwaco charter boat captain and his deckhand saved the lives of three fishermen last week. The three fishermen’s vessel began taking on water around 7:00 A.M. after crossing the bar and starting to fish just west of Cape Disappointment. The operator of the vessel, Dirk Irwin noticed the vessel was low in the stern and when the engine compartment was opened it was discovered to be flooded. The bilge pump failed and within minutes the engine quit. Irwin issued a May Day message to the Coast Guard indicating he was sinking and in need of immediate help. According to the news report Irwin’s boat, which he had borrowed from a friend, sank shortly after his call for help was made.   Luckily, Irwin and two 16-year-old passengers, Justin Williamson and Jake Kazamecki, were able to get on life preservers before the vessel sank.

Irwin’s radio message calling for help was heard by a near by Pacific Salmon Charters skipper, Brian Cables.   Cables quick action would save the three fishermen’s lives.   Cable piloted his charter boat the Pacific Dream, which had 16 passengers on board, to the area where Irwin reported his boat was sinking. With the aid of his deck hand, and the sixteen passengers aboard his charter boat Cables spotted the three Fishermen in the water.   Deckhand Patrick Gore threw the three fishermen a life ring and with the aid of charter passengers on the Pacific Dream pulled the three crewmen aboard the charter boat.

The rescued fishermen were suffering from signs of hypothermia. They were transferred to a Coast Guard motor lifeboat and taken back to Cape Disappointment Coast Guard Station for medical evaluation.   Search of the area was unable to locate the sunken vessel.

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Alaska State Troopers have confirmed that two missing crewman’s bodies have been recovered from the hull of the fishing vessel Miss Destinee. 18 and 22 year old Joshua and Abigail Osborne became trapped in the hull of the vessel when it capsized on June 29, 2017. Both Osborne’s were part of the same Wasilla family and reportedly had just become crewmembers aboard the Miss Destinee. A Celebration of Life service will be held for the two-young fisherman on Saturday July 8th at the Summit Worship Center.

The Miss Destinee was a small 35-foot long purse seine vessel. News reports indicate, the owner of the vessel Kyle Mead claims the vessel was underway to Kodiak with a load of fish when it was struck by a “rogue wave” causing the vessel to lay over onto its starboard side and capsize. Mead and another crewman were in the vessel’s upper wheelhouse and survived by clinging onto the vessel’s seine skiff until then could be rescued by a nearby vessel. It appears that in the capsizing of the vessel the two Osborne’s were unable to escape from below decks and were trapped in the vessel’s hull.

A salvage company has been able to right and refloat the Miss Destinee and the vessel has been towed to Kodiak where it will be examined by the Coast Guard. In vessel capsizing cases, the investigation into the cause of the capsizing focuses on multiple factors including operation and navigation of the vessel, the loading and stability characteristics of the vessels, together with the wind and sea conditions. Rogue waves are extremely rare conditions.

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The Coast Guard and the National Board of Transportation will hold hearings to investigate the February 11, 2017 disappearance of the Alaska crab fishing vessel DESTINATION. Six crewmen aboard the vessel remain missing and presumed dead. Witness testimony will be taken in Seattle beginning on August 7th. The focus of the investigation will be upon factors that contributed to the cause of the sinking and whether or not negligence or violations of the law on the part of any person holding Coast Guard licenses may have contributed to the sinking.   Information gathered in the casualty investigation may be used to develop new safety regulation to help prevent future sinkings.

Little is currently publicly known about the sinking of the 98 foot long DESTINATION. Some reported theories speculate that the DESTINTATION may have experienced severe icing conditions leading to loss of stability and capsizing of the vessel. No emergency may-day message was received from the vessel and search for the vessel located only a minor debris field and a small oil sheen. Search for the vessel was suspended after three days.

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June 29 2017

The Coast Guard and nearby fishing vessels are continuing to search for two crewmen missing from the fishing vessel Miss Destinee. The incident happened about 23 miles north of Kodiak in Marmot Bay.

The Coast Guard received a mayday message on channel sixteen from a nearby vessel indicating that the 39 foot purse seine vessel Miss Destinee was in trouble. The call was received around 7:30 A.M. Thursday morning.