The Bering Sea search for the abandoned Alaska fishing vessel Alaska Juris has been called off by the Coast Guard and the vessel’s owner Fishing Company of Alaska. The 46 crewmen of the Alaska Juris abandon the ship on Tuesday after the vessel could not control flooding in its engine room. Although weather conditions have been mild for the Bering Sea, private search vessels and Coast Guard search planes have been unable to locate the Alaska Juris, last seen listing to the port and down by the bow . The vessel is believed to have sunk in 5, 400 feet of water approximately700 miles west of Dutch Harbor, Alaska. Some oil sheens have reportedly been spotted in the area where the vessel is thought to have sunk.
The Seattle based owner of the Alaska Juris, the Fishing Company of Alaska (FCA) has a long trail of injury claims and wrongful death claims. In 2008 the Alaska Ranger, another vessel owned by FCA, sank in the Bering Sea with the loss of five crewman’s lives. The investigation in that case also focused on flooding in the vessel’s engine room. The 220 foot Alaska Juris was built in 1975. It is part of a fleet of Alaska fishing vessels owned by the Fishing Company of Alaska.
Thankfully none of the 46 crewmen have been reportedly seriously injured in the emergency evacuation of the Alaska Juris. However, the Alaska Juris sinking was a near tragedy that narrowly avoided the loss of many crewmen’s lives. A full investigation should be undertaken into the root cause of what caused the vessel to sink and how such sinkings can be prevented in the future. Without such investigations devoted to developing appropriate safety regulations, Alaska fishermen’s lives will be continued to be put at risk.