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Fishing Vessel Towed Off Olympic Peninsula Rocks

The Coast Guard towed the 40-foot fishing vessel JAYDEN RAY and its crew to safety early this morning after she ran aground at LaPush, about 3 miles north of the mouth of the Quillayute River, on the Olympic Peninsula.

The Coast Guard received a mayday call from the four-member crew of the JAYDEN RAY at 2:20 a.m., after the vessel washed up on rocks and was unable to deploy its anchor.

A helicopter crew from Air Station Port Angeles and a 47-foot motor lifeboat crew from Station Quillayute River at LaPush were dispatched. The motor lifeboat crew was able to navigate through the rocks and throw over a towline at approximately 3:30 a.m., after receiving illumination from a spotlight aboard the helicopter.

The motor lifeboat crew took the fishing vessel and its crew members in tow and transferred them back to LaPush where a post search-and-rescue boarding was conducted. According to a Coast Guard spokesman, the cause of the grounding is under investigation.

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Nine Deaths in Chinese Shipwreck

Nine people have died and seven remain missing after a fishing boat sank off the coast of the northeastern Chinese seaport of Dalian, maritime authorities said.

The boat with 17 people on board sank in the wee hours of Wednesday amid strong waves during an attempt to hook the boat to a larger vessel, the authorities said.

The bodies of nine of the fishermen were recovered at around 3:30 p.m., while another seven people are still missing.

The only person rescued from the sinking boat is listed is good condition at a hospital in Liaoning province, where Dalian is located.

Authorities said a rescue operation involving a helicopter, seven maritime patrol vessels and 120 other boats was still ongoing.

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Alaska Ferry Worker Injured in Bellingham

On Friday, November 2, an Alaska ferry worker was injured after a support cable snapped on the passenger loading ramp she was standing on at Bellingham Cruise Terminal, in Fairhaven.

The female Alaska Marine Highway ferry ramp operator, who was not identified, was standing near the edge of the passenger ramp at 3:20 p.m., lowering it into place on the stern of the ship, witnesses said. Just as it got parallel with the ground, a cable snapped – it wasn’t clear why – and the ramp collapsed. Some wooden pilings kept it from falling further. The worker fell a distance of about 20 feet, landing on the damaged ramp.

“I thought it was a freaking earthquake,” said TJ Tjomsland, of Sitka, Alaska, who was waiting to board the ferry. “The speculation is she had a head injury.”

Other witnesses said she seemed to have hurt her back. Port officials didn’t know how she landed. Workers rushed to her and called an ambulance. The injured ferry worker was taken to St. Joseph hospital. No update on her condition was available Friday evening.

The M/V COLUMBIA, a 418-foot vessel, was scheduled to leave the terminal, 355 Harris Ave., at 6 p.m., but was delayed.

Ryan Hardy, who had a ticket for the Alaskan coast, saw the incident from the terminal.

“She started to move (the ramp) and I could hear something pop,” he said. “It shook, and then there was another pop.”

Then she fell, as the ramp buckled about two dozen feet from the edge of the vessel.

No foot passengers were boarding the ferry at the time of the accident. A few had already driven vehicles onboard.

Foot passengers had to board through the vehicle loading area, because the ramp was “completely broken,” said Port of Bellingham spokeswoman Carolyn Casey.

The ramp is owned by the Port of Bellingham.

Source: Caleb Hutton, Bellingham Herald

 

In Washington, state ferry workers look to the Jones Act and general maritime law when they sustain on-the-job injuries. The State of Washington has waived its sovereign immunity for maritime worker injury claims.

This is not the case for Alaska Marine Highway workers. With the enactment of Alaska Statute 09.50.250(5), the Alaska legislature rescinded its waiver of sovereign immunity for maritime workers employed by the State. The statute survived a constitutional challenge in the case of Glover v. State of Alaska. Consequently, Alaska ferry workers injured on the job have no civil cause of action against their employer, the State of Alaska. They are instead covered by state workers’ compensation. However, where third parties cause or contribute to accidents, the general maritime law may provide additional remedies for the seamen.

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Coast Guard Orders Washington State Ferries to Keep Crew Members

The Coast Guard has sent a letter to state and union officials, demanding that the Washington State Ferry system restore the crew complement on several of their boats for safety reasons. In the 8-page letter, the Coast Guard said they made the decision by analyzing all of the responsibilities each crew must undertake.

“(We analyzed) the crew’s ability to perform normal duties of operation and maintenance, and their ability to perform emergency duties, such as firefighting, vessel evacuation, man overboard, and security threat response,” wrote Scott Ferguson, U.S. Coast Guard, Commander, Sector Puget Sound.

In a letter to WSF director David Moseley, Cmdr. Ferguson said the agency was restoring an ordinary seaman to the Jumbo boats — WALLA WALLA and SPOKANE.The changes will go into effect within 30 days, according to the letter. They came after boat captains sent concerns about the cuts to the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard analyzed what numbers would be sufficient in worst-case scenarios like onboard fire and abandon ship.

Unions that represent ferry employees had lobbied the Coast Guard to increase the minimum levels of crewing. In June the ferry system reduced the number of employees on several vessels to save money. That angered many employees who did not believe sailing at the lower levels was safe.

“I don’t think there should have been a reduction in the first place, and the Coast Guard made the proper decision after reviewing the facts,” said Dennis Conklin, Puget Sound Region director for the Inlandboatman’s Union, which represents the ordinary seamen. “We put it in the Coast Guard’s hands to make that decision, which is the way it should have been done in the beginning, and they should have had all the facts instead of the limited facts the ferry system gave them.”

“We’re definitely happy about it,” said Conklin. “They should have never decreased manning in the first place. It was a safety issue. There are risk factors there.”

The manning requirements imposed by the Coast Guard place some political and economic issues in high relief. There will be those who contend that the union is “feather-bedding” with the complicity of the Federal government. Others will applaud the Coast Guard’s insistence on sufficient crew to protect passengers and the waters of Puget Sound. All of which is complicated by state budget constraints and the need to move people and vehicles across our inland wateways.

It appears the Coast Guard took the correct approach, by analyzing the duties of crewmembers and requiring sufficient personnel to discharge those duties. At the end of the day, safety considerations must be paramount.

The admiralty and maritime lawfirm of Anderson Carey Alexander has represented injured seamen for more than three decades. We have proudly represented members of the Inland Boatman’s Union in casualty litigation. We stand with the union and with the Coast Guard in support of manning requirements which protect the safety of passengers and crewmembers alike.

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Hurricane Sandy Pegs Beaufort Scale

As Hurricane Sandy pummels the East Coast of the U.S., there is much discussion of wind speed. The forecast is for 90 mile per hour winds.

Wind speed has long been of interest and concern to mariners, since the resulting wave action can cause havoc at sea. Before the age of technology, and instruments capable of registering exact wind velocities, sea-going folk shared a sense of the signs of wind speed, such as wave height, whitecaps, spray, foam and spindrifts. In 1805, the Englishman Sir Francis Beaufort developed a scale. It can be found at the following NOAA site: www.spc.noaa.gov/faq/tornado/beaufort.html.

According to the scale, which is still used by mariners, whitecaps develop at 7-10 knots of wind speed. Spray starts to appear at 17-21 knots. White foam streaks off breakers at 29-33 knots, which is defined as a near gale.

At the level of a hurricane, which is over 64 knots (75 m.p.h.) of wind speed, the Beaufort Scale speaks of: “Air filled with foam, waves over 45 feet, sea completely white with driving spray, visibility greatly reduced.”

If winds over the North Atlantic today are anywhere near 90 m.p.h., the ocean will be a maelstrom. There is much talk of damage ashore, but we must extend our hopes and prayers to those at sea who have been unable to find safe refuge. Not to mention those in what have traditionally been safe refuges but will be overcome by the unprecedented force of a storm which defies categorization under the Beaufort Scale or any other.

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Tragedy of HMS BOUNTY

Hurricane Sandy may have claimed its first American victims today as it sank a tall ship and washed away two crew members as they tried to board a life boat.

Fourteen people were rescued from the floundering HMS BOUNTY early this morning and an urgent search is on in the churning seas for the two missing sailors.

The BOUNTY, a three masted ship, was 90 miles southeast of Hatteras, N.C., when the owner called saying she’d lost contact with the crew Sunday night, The AP reported. The BOUNTY is a 180-foot replica of the ship featured in the film “Mutiny on the Bounty.”

“There have been 14 people rescued and there are two that are still unaccounted for,” Jordan Campbell, Petty Officer, First Class told ABCNews.com.

The survivors were taken to Air Station Elizabeth City on the North Carolina coast. Lt. Junior Grade Brendan Selerno told ABCNews.com that two people were admitted to the hospital, one with a broken arm and one with an injured back.

The ship left Connecticut last week for St. Petersburg, Fla. The crew had been in constant contact with the National Hurricane Center and tried to go around the storm, according to the director of the HMS Bounty Organization, Tracie Simonin.

But the ship got caught in Sandy’s fury and began taking on water. The crew was forced to abandon ship during the night and get into lifeboats, wearing survival suits and life jackets.

“What we know is that the whole crew was getting ready to board the life rafts, and as they were about to board, three people ended up on the water. One was able to get out [of the water] and get into rafts, and the other two are still unaccounted,” Selerno told ABCNews.com.

Cold water survival suits, also called Gumby suits, staved off hypothermia for the shipwrecked sailors.

Coast Guard video of the rescues shows the sailors being plucked from covered life rafts and hauled into the helicopter.

A Coast Guard plane spotted the ship before it went down and directed two rescue helicopters to the scene. At 6:40 a.m., the H65 Jayhawk helicopters hoisted 14 people out of their lifeboats and into the choppers.

The survivors were taken to Air Station Elizabeth City on the North Carolina coast.

The Coast Guard is conducting a search and rescue operation for the missing. Currently a C120 plane and a helicopter are on the scene and Coast Guard Cutter Elm and the Coast Guard Cutter Gallatin will be sent to aid in the search.

Initial reports said there were 17 people on the Bounty, but the manifest indicated the ship only has 16 people aboard

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Tour Boat Grounding in San Francisco Bay

Two weeks ago, a collision killed 38 people aboard a passenger ferry near Hong Kong. Two days ago, nearly two dozen people survived the sinking of a tour boat in San Francisco Bay. The first incident was tragic, the second merely ominous. Both incidents should have been avoided with the use of current technology and the exercise of reasonable care. A collision should never occur in fair weather with unimpaired visibility. A grounding on a marked shoal is, as in the case of the Italian cruise ship COSTA CONCORDIA, inexcusable.

The San Francisco Bay episode occured this past Friday night, October 12. The 45-foot NEPTUNE, billed as the Bay’s only “floating wine tasting room,” was carrying guests at a bachelor party when the vessel hit a shoal near Alcatraz Island and began sinking on Friday night, October 12. According to a Coast Guard spokesman, the boat hit the shoal around 8:42 p.m. and started taking on water after the impact left a 1-foot gash in the side of the boat.

The boat’s captain tried to steer the stricken vessel to San Francisco’s Pier 39. But the boat started having rudder issues and began to sink about 300 feet from the pier, the Coast Guard said.

Three Coast Guard boats took all 22 passengers and crewmembers off the vessel and brought them to the pier. San Francisco fire and San Francisco police boats also responded.
There were no injuries.

In this day and age, with GPS (not to mention Loran, radar, and sophisticated depth sounders) a vessel should never, ever, run aground on a charted shoal. There can be no excuse for Friday’s incident. Thankfully, the sinking did not occur as quickly as that of the Hong Kong passenger ferry, but lives were put at risk as a result of operator negligence.

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Fishing Vessel Burns, Crew Rescued Off Oregon Coast

The U.S. Coast Guard rescued three crew members this morning who abandoned their burning fishing vessel, the 35-foot HAVANNA, and set out on a life raft about 17 miles west of Cannon Beach.

An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew flew up from Air Facility Newport to make the rescue. It located the three survivors in the life raft and lowered a rescue swimmer, who disconnected from the helicopter and swam to the raft.

The helicopter crew hoisted all three survivors and the rescue swimmer and flew them to Air Station Astoria, arriving at approximately 8:24 a.m. The crew members of the HAVANNA were transferred to local emergency medical service technicians.

A 47-foot motor lifeboat from Station Tillamook Bay was also on scene at the site of the burning vessel.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Nate Littlejohn said all three appeared to be in decent condition and were likely being checked out for potential hypothermia.

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Beware the Ides of October

This is the 50th anniversary of the “Columbus Day Storm,” the most powerful extratropical storm of all time. It is an appropriate moment to contemplate the significance of fall weather patterns to the North Pacific marine industry.

Many years ago, a partner at the maritime law firm of Anderson Carey Alexander was a principal of a tug and barge company. He secured marine insurance for a tug to be operated in Puget Sound. The policy permitted the vessel to trade offshore in the summer, but not after October 15. He remembers the provision well, since the so-called “trading warranty” had to be amended to permit a barge to be towed from Portland, Oregon to Puget Sound in November.

At the time, October 15 seemed to be an arbitrary date. But years of experience have shown that on or about that date every year the weather in the North Pacific changes for the worse. This year is a dramatic example. According to University of Washington meteorologist Cliff Maas, the high pressure area which lingered over the Northwest for months is moving east. Beginning today, October 12, and continuing for the foreseable future, one storm system after another is likely to roll off the Pacific and batter the coast.

Fall can be a dangerous season at sea. Many fisheries are in full swing and mariners are exposed the perils of the sea, even as weather deteriorates with the approach of winter. At Anderson Carey Alexander, we have handled numerous maritime injury and death claims resulting, in part, from the particular perils of autumn.

In 1981, a fish processor returning from the Bering Sea at the end of the salmon fishing season foundered and sank, causing multiple lives to be lost. A couple of months later, a trawler capsized off the Oregon coast, resulting in the death of four crewmembers. Four years ago this month, a 92-foot trawler hurried to Dutch Harbor from the fishing grounds with a boatload of cod, attempting to outrun an approaching storm. The vessel sank under the impact of 55-90 knot winds and seas approaching 40 feet. The result, again, was the tragic death of crewmembers. (In the intervening years, innumerable autumn casualties gave rise to injury and death at sea.)

Marine casualties occur throughout the year, but for the North Pacific fishing fleet the fall seems to be a particularly dangerous season. Mariners are urged to take special care during the shortening autumn days to close and dog watertight hatches, make sure alarms are functioning properly, check out survival suits, rafts and EPIRBs, and generally “batten down the hatches.”

In other words, Beware the Ides of October.

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Fishermen Rescued After Sinking Near Kodiak

The U.S. Coast Guard has reported that five fishermen were rescued from an island south of Kodiak early this morning after their 58-foot-long fishing vessel struck a rock and started taking on water.

According to Coast Guard spokesperson Petty Officer 1st Class David Mosley, the crew of the KODIAK ISLE contacted watchstanders just after midnight Thursday. They then donned survival suits and abandoned ship in a life raft that drifted ashore on Sitkinak Island, as the Coast Guard issued an urgent marine information broadcast and sent an MH-60 Jawhawk helicopter to the area.

“The helicopter crew arrived on scene at 2 a.m., spotted a flare from the fishermen, and safely hoisted the five men who were transferred to Kodiak with no reported injuries,” Mosley wrote.

Coast Guardsmen praised the Kodiak Isle crew’s preparedness, as well as the specific steps they took to assist their rescue.

“The fishermen took the proper steps to help ensure their safety during this emergency situation,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Lauren Brady, a Coast Guard Sector Anchorage watchstander. “They immediately alerted us that they had an emergency and needed help. They then put on survival suits and entered their life raft with flares and an emergency location beacon, which allowed the helicopter crew to quickly locate them.”

The KODIAK ISLE was still afloat as of 2:30 a.m. when the helicopter departed the scene, but another flyover will take place Thursday to locate the vessel and assess potential safety concerns. The vessel was reportedly carrying about 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel.

A nearby weather buoy reported winds of 10 to 20 mph

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