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April 2010 Archives

Coast Guard Investigating Loading of Fishing Vessel NORTHERN BELLE

Statements by survivors of the sinking of the NORTHERN BELLE are leading Coast Guard investigators to look at the manner in which the vessel was loaded as a potential cause of the accident. The Captain of the NORTHERN BELLE died when the vessel sank in Alaskan waters last week. Crewmen who survived the accident have indicated the vessel was carrying cargo and had very limited free board. The crewmen who survived the sinking have told reporters that the Captain was concerned about the loading of the vessel. What safety regulations may apply to the NORTHERN BELLE may depend upon the type of cargo the vessel was transporting. Reports indicate that the vessel may not have been hauling fishing gear or equipment, but rather lumber. Improper loading of vessels can cause sudden loss of stability and lead to sinking of the vessel. Smaller fishing boats are not required to have detailed stability reports aboard their vessels.

Lynda Edwards Wins Award For ABA Journal on Sinking of The ALASKA RANGER

The American Legion has announced it has awarded the American Bar Association Journal its top award for journalism for a story, "The Cemetery Sea," written by Lynda Edwards. The award is for outstanding achievement in the field of Journalism. Edwards battled to write and publish a story not typically printed by the ABA Journal. She should receive special recognition for her outstanding work and the award she has earned for the ABA Journal.

Fisherman Dies in Accident Aboard Clam Dredge SILVER FOX

A Cape May claim dredge lost two men overboard, one of whom has died. The SILVER FOX is a 60-foot crab boat with a three man crew. One crewmember fell overboard. A second crewman then put on a survival suit and heroically dove into the water in an attempt to rescue the other crewman. The two crewmen were unable to swim back to the vessel; the vessel was reportedly disabled and adrift because a hose had fouled the boat's propellers. The men in the water drifted away from Silver Fox. A Mayday call was issued a 5:04 a.m., and a Coast Guard helicopter recovered both crewmen from the water around 5:40 a.m. Tragically, only one crewman survived the accident. Records indicate the men were in the 55 degree water for approximately one hour before the helicopter arrived on scene. Sea conditions were calm at the time of the accident with one foot waves and winds of 5-10 knots. Cold water temperatures can quickly lead to hypothermia and death, and survival time is very limited without a survival suit.

Alaska Fishing Vessel Crewman Dies in Sinking of Northern Belle - Three Survive

Four crewmen from the 75-foot Alaska fishing vessel NORTHERN BELLE abandoned ship in the Gulf of Alaska as the vessel began to sink around 5:30 p.m. Tuesday. The crew was able to send a May Day call but was unable to get into the vessel's life raft. Coast Guard helicopters from Kodiak responded immediately to the call and pulled four crewmen in survival suits from the water around 8:00 p.m. One crewman was reported dead upon arrival in Cordova.

One Crewman Dead in West Virginia Tow Boat Accident

The tow boat MISTY DAWN, a 67-foot tow boat owned by Ross Brothers Construction of Kentucky, sank in the Kanawha River on Monday with the loss of one crewman's life. The accident happened at 2 a.m. when a barge the tow boat was pushing began taking on water. The MISTY DAWN pushed the barge towards shore where it sank. The tow boat then sank in the middle of the river eight hours later, nearly two yards away from the previously sunken barge. The cause of the sinkings are unknown at this time and will be investigated further by the Coast Guard.

$700,000 Hearing Loss Claim - Life Boat Drills

An able bodied seaman was injured while participating in life boat drills aboard a tanker ship. The brake for the winch used to lower and raise the life boat failed, causing the winch handle to spin out of control, striking the seaman in the head. The blow smashed the seaman's hard hat, fractured his skull, and caused bilateral fractures in the seaman's ear bones. The 65 year old seaman had total hearing loss in one ear and partial hearing loss in the other ear. He also suffered from dizziness and tinnitus. Remarkably, life boat drills aboard ships have resulted in many accidents and deaths for crewmen, and extreme care and caution must be used during these important drills.

Court Denies Fishing Company's Request For Vocational Exam of Injured Worker

In a case currently pending in King County, Seattle, Elliottt v. Seafreeze Alaska, et al., a Superior Court a judge has denied Seafreeze Alaska's motion to have an injured fish processor examined by a vocational counselor.

Injured Worker's Immigration Status Held Inadmissible By Washington Supreme Court

The Washington State Supreme Court has ruled yesterday that evidence of an injured worker's illegal immigration status is highly prejudicial and should be held to be inadmissible at trial. Alex Silas was injured when he fell from a ladder at a construction site. Silas was a Mexican citizen who came to the United States in 1989. Although he applied for citizenship, his application was never processed. His visa expired in 1994, but he continued to live and work in the Seattle area. He paid taxes on his earnings. Silas was married and had three children in the United States.


Late Friday, a crewman working on an off shore oil supply vessel suffered a leg amputation injury when he became caught in the bite of the line. The accident happened 27 miles off shore of Corpus Christi. The call came to the Coast Guard for assistance from the SANDRA SINO, indicating the crewman was working alongside the oil rig when he became entangled in one of the mooring lines and lost his leg. The crewman was airlifted by Coast Guard helicopter to Spohn Memorial Hospital.


A Canadian tug boat towing a 295 foot barge has reported the barge capsized about eight miles from the Columbia River bar. The barge was loaded with scrap metal that was lost in approximately 300 feet of water. Sea and wind conditions were calm in the area. A coast guard motor life boat from Cape Disappointment in Ilwaco and a helicopter crew from Astoria were dispatched to the scene. No injuries were reported in the accident. The Department of Ecology has contacted the owners of the vessel.


A ferry worker directing traffic on the Washington State Ferry PUYALLUP was injured on Wednesday. The accident happened while cars were being offloaded from the ferry in Kingston. A car driven by an 81 year old passenger had been directed to stop by the ferry crewman but unexpectedly accelerated, grazing the crewman, striking a flat bed truck and then colliding with the ferry's bulkhead. The ferry worker was treated at a local hospital for what were thought be minor injuries and released home. The driver of the car was cited for a traffic violation. Drug and alcohol were not thought to be involved in the accident.

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