Articles Posted in Vessel Sinkings

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An 81-foot tug boat owned by Samson Tug and Barge Company sank at a Sitka pier Wednesday night. The 81-foot tug Powhatan had been out of service for ten years and no crew was reported injured in the incident. The major concern is potential pollution to the environment. Samson has indicated that although the vessel had a 20,000 gallon fuel capacity, all but one of the vessel’s tanks had been previously drained. However, the forward tank reportedly contained approximately 2,500 gallons of fuel.

After sinking the tug was described as sliding under the pier and resting on an underwater ledge. Some signs of diesel and oil leakage have been noted. An oil boom has been put in place.   The Coast Guard and the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation are responding to the accident. Samson is developing a salvage plan for the raising of the vessel and to minimize environmental damage. Weather conditions were mild with 11 mile per hour winds and 2 foot seas. What caused the tug’s sinking is unknown and under investigation.

In other Northwest maritime news three passengers from a pleasure boat were rescued from their vessel after going aground at Boulder Island in the San Juan Islands. The Coast Guard airlifted the passengers from their vessel, it is not known whether there were any injuries.



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An Alaska Court has held a presumptive death hearing declaring the six-missing crewmen from the F/V DESTINATION lost at sea and presumed dead. The ruling allows the families of the crewman to obtain official death certificates necessary for administering the estates and pursuing legal claims and benefits relating to the deaths of the crewmen.

The vessel with six crewmen on board disappeared on February 11, 2017 approximately two miles north of St. George Island. No mayday message was issued by the vessel and only small amounts of wreckage were located. The Coast Guard was alerted that the vessel was in trouble when it received an EPIRB signal.  Despite search and rescue efforts, no trace of the six-missing crewmen has been found.

Memorial Services for the missing crewman are to be held on March 23rd in the Seattle area. Missing and presumed dead are Raymond Vincler, Larry o’Grady, Charles Jones, Darrik Seibold, Kai Hamik and captain of the vessel Jeff Hathaway.

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February 24, 2017

The United States Coast Guard has announced they will convene a Marine Board of Investigation into the sinking of the Alaska crab fishing vessel Destination.   Six crewman remain missing as a result of the February 1, 2017 disappearance of the Destination.   An emergency locator beacon first alerted the Coast Guard that the Destination was in trouble. No mayday message was received from the vessel. Search and rescue efforts provided few clues as to the cause of the vessel’s disappearance. All that was located in the area of the EPIRB was an oil sheen, life ring from the vessel, buoys and tarps. Sea and weather conditions in the area suggest that the vessel may have experienced freezing ocean spray conditions. Icing conditions can lead to vessel stability problems.

The Marine Board of Investigation will gather evidence relating to factors that may have contributed to the incident. The Marine Board may subpoena records and take sworn statements from witnesses. Past crewmen will be interviewed. Typically in past casualties involving Alaska fishing vessels the investigations have focused on maintenance and repair of the vessel including any alterations, additions or subtractions to or from the vessel that may have impacted the vessel’s stability. Weather and sea conditions will be examined to determine the possibility that icing conditions may have played a role in the loss of the vessel. The vessel’s stability will be analyzed and the vessel’s stability report will be reviewed. An important issue will be how the vessel was loaded with pots and gear, and its ability to dump gear quickly in the event of citing conditions.

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Three commercial fishermen have been rescued from the F/V Coastal Reign.  The crew of the Coastal Reign issued a may-day message indicating they were taking on water near the mouth of the Columbia River.  The captain reported the vessel had struck a submerged object.  Coast Guard responded with motor life boats and helicopters and arriving on the scene with emergency pumps to help the vessel which was in danger of sinking.  The emergency efforts were successful in pumping out the vessel and the F/V Coastal Reign was taken in tow to Warrenton, Oregon.  Weather conditions at the scene were described as six-foot swells with winds of 15 miles per hour.  The Captain of the Port issued an order requiring the Coastal Reign to be properly inspected and repaired before returning to service.

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An EPIRB signal alerted the Coast Guard on Saturday that the Alaska fishing vessel Destination may be in trouble near St. George Island. The emergency signal came from a location about two miles northwest of St. George Island, a port the Destination frequently visited. Coast Guard vessels and helicopters searched the area locating a debris field, oil sheen, buoys, tarps, life ring and the EPIRB. Searchers were unable to locate any sign of the missing crewman or their vessel.  Weather on the scene was reported to be 30-mile per-hour winds with seas of 5-8 feet, and temperature of 20 degrees. The Coast Guard is continuing its search and the Coast Guard cutter Morgenthau was anticipated to arrive in the search area Sunday morning.

The Destination is a 98-foot vessel home based in Seattle. Little details are now available about the event. The event may have happened quickly before the crew of the Destination was able to get off a May Day message and launch their survival rafts. It is unknown whether or not freezing spray may have contributed to the incident.  Icing conditions if they existed in the area could cause a vessel to suddenly lose stability.  Further information about the weather conditions at the time of the emergency signal is currently unavailable.

This post will be updated as more information becomes available.

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January 7, 2017 – Five crewmen were saved when the F/V Star King sank near the Columbia River bar during the first week of the West Coast crab season. The captain of the Star King issued an emergency may day call just after 4:30 A.M. Saturday morning reporting that the vessel was taking on water and listing to the starboard. The crew of the vessel were able to done survival suits and abandoned ship before the Star King capsized and sank just minutes later.  The Sea Ballad another fishing vessel working in the area was able to rescue all five of the crewman from the water. The crew of the Star King was transferred to a motor life boat from Cape Disappointment and taken to shore in Ilwaco. Information about any injuries to the crew is not currently available. Coast Guard records indicate that the 55 foot Star King is owned by Kindred Fisheries Inc.

The fishing strike over the price of dungeness was crab had been settled ($ 2.875 per pound) and the fleet were to begin setting crab pots at 8:00 A. M. on Saturday. In many past cases overloading or improper loading of crab boats at the start of fishing seasons have lead to vessels sinking. For the safety of the crew of crab fishing vessels, detailed stability analysis should be performed on each crab boat to establish safe loading limits. Information about how the Star King was loaded was not reported or available at this time. Quick action by the crew in getting into their survival suits before the Star King sank undoubtedly saved these crewman’s lives. Without survival suits and flotation devices the survival time for a crewman in the winter ocean waters off the coast of Washington and Oregon can be just minutes depending on sea conditions.

In a second incident four miles off the coast of Long Beach, the Coast Guard escorted the crew of the fishing vessel Tracer back to shore on Sunday. The crew called for help after reporting they were taking on water with loss of engine power. With the assistance of pumps provided by the Coast Guard the Tracer was able to regain power and control the flooding. Weather conditions were reported as 5 foot swells with 30 mile per hour winds.

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The Alaska fishing vessel Exito has reportedly sank 14 miles Northeast of Dutch Harbor.  Three crewman have been rescued and the search continues for two missing crewmen.   The Exito’s owner called the Coast Guard at 9:30 Tuesday night reporting the vessel was taking on water and the crew was preparing to abandon ship.  A near by vessel Afognac Strait was able to locate and rescue three of the Exito’s crew.   The search continues the two  missing crew.  One of the missing crewmen was last seen in a survival suit preparing to abandon ship.

Details about the search for the missing crewman are not available at this time.  Details about the cause of the sinking are also unavailable. New reports indicate the Exit0 was carrying cargo for Trident Seafoods from Dutch Harbor to Akutan. The cargo included fifty five gallon drums and x-ray equipment.   Downflooding of fishing vessel’s like the Exito can quickly cause a sinking.  The Exito is a 117 foot steel hulled vessel built in 1956.  Coast Guard records indicate the vessel is home ported in Dutch Harbor, but the vessel is a familiar presence in Seattle.  The vessel is registered as being owned by Aleautian Endeavor LLC.

Weather conditions at the time of the incident were reported to be 8 foot seas with winds around 30 miles per hour.

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October 7, 2016

The Coast Guard has rescued five commercial fishermen from a sinking fish boat approximately 19 miles southwest of Gray Harbor, Washington. The crew of the fishing vessel Taplow radioed the Coast Guard that they were taking on water, their engine room was half-flooded and their pumps had stopped working. The crew was directed to activate their EPIRB, and the Coast Guard dispatched helicopters and motor lifeboats to aid in the rescue of the fishermen.   The vessel continued to list and take on water despite pumps delivered by the Coast Guard, and the crew was advised to abandon ship. The vessel has reportedly sunk in 300 feet of water. The crew was brought to shore at Grays Harbor. No injuries were reported in the incident. Initial investigation shows that the Taplow is a 56-foot fishing vessel originally built in 1945 in the Sterling shipyards in Vancouver.

Friday, the Coast Guard rescued four other crewmen from sailing vessels off the Washington Coast.   Two crewmen from the 45-foot sail boat Soteria were forced to abandon ship in 20-foot seas and 50 MPH winds.   Remarkably, this vessel is reported to not have had survival suits on board, and the survival suits had to be provided by the Coast Guard before the crew could abandon ship and be safely rescued.   In a separate incident 31 miles offshore from Willapa Bay, a 39-foot sailboat lost its mast in heavy weather. Rescue swimmers from the motor life rescued the operator of the vessel from the water.

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On Sunday, two boaters have been rescued from the surf after their vessel capsized near Nehalem Bay, Oregon.   The Coast Guard first received a call for help on VHF Channel twenty-two and called upon a 47-foot motor lifeboat already underway to search the area. The Coast Guard received further information from witnesses indicating sighting a capsized vessel near the mouth of the Nehalem River. The Coast Guard located the two boaters in the surf zone and as they approached to make the rescue report that both boaters went under the water surface several times. The accident happed around 7:30 A.M., the air and water temperature were reported as 48 and 59 degrees. Exposure to cold water can quickly lead to hypothermia in accidents such as this. The Coast Guard indicates that wearing life jackets was instrumental in being able to survive the incident.

In other Coast Guard news, the search for a missing Washington boater has been suspended.   52-year-old Brian Schmitz’ 16-foot boat was spotted unmanned and adrift on the Columbia River near Portland on Saturday. An extensive air and water search for Schmitz failed to locate any signs of the man. The Coast Guard indicates there was evidence that the man had likely had fallen overboard. It is unknown weather Schmitz was wearing a personal floatation device.

In other regional news, search was suspended Friday for an Alaska cruise ship passenger missing from the 965 foot Norwegian Pearl. Thursday an unidentified 24-year-old woman passenger was reported missing from the cruise ship. Search of the vessel and review of videotapes from the cruise ship reveal the woman had gone overboard while the vessel was cruising in Lynn Canal. The circumstances of how the woman had gone overboard were not revealed, but the Coast Guard statement indicated the fall overboard was not “suspicious”. The cruise ship was on an eight-day cruise from Seattle to Glacier Bay.

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The fishing vessel Sara Jo capsized and sank on January 26, 2016 while crossing Oregon’s treacherous Coos Bay bar. The vessel reportedly lost power as it was crossing the bar resulting in loss of steerage which lead to flooding of the vessel in the high seas. The Captain issued a mayday and the three crewman aboard the vessel were able to get into survival suits before abandoning the Sara Jo.

Raymond Cardosa died in the accident, and crewman David Schellong and captain David Williams narrowly escaped death. Williams and Schellong were rescued from the water by Coast Guard rescue boats. A week prior to the Sara Jo’s sinking the crab boat Eagle Three also sank while trying to cross the bar. Three crewmen died in the sinking of the Eagle Three.

On July 26, 2016, the owner of the Sara Jo filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court located in Portland Oregon, Case No. 3:16-CV-01512. The lawsuit commonly referred to as a Petition for Limitation of or Exoneration from Liability seeks to prohibit the family of Cardosa and surviving crew of the vessel from holding the owner responsible for Cardosa’s death and the crew’s injuries.

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