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Pacific Star longliner flooding illustrates importance of 'Good Samaritan' vessels

If you hear a nearby vessel is in trouble, what do you do? For fishermen and other seamen, it's usually a no-brainer: you see how you can help.

The importance of "Good Samaritans" in assisting vessels in distress was evident in a situation in Southeast Alaska last week. The Pacific Star longliner started taking on water near the Fairweather Grounds late in the evening on February 3, KCAW reported. The Coast Guard responded with pumps, and the Pacific Star was able to safely make it to shore for repairs, then on to Sitka.

Throughout the journey, Good Samaritan vessels helped escort the Pacific Star. The Bering Titan tug escorted the Pacific Star to Graves Harbor for repairs, and the fishing vessel Sherrie Marie took over as escort back to Sitka.

The Coast Guard praised the importance of Good Samaritan vessels in a press release about the incident.

Being a "Good Samaritan" isn't just about being a nice person. If a nearby vessel can safely assist - without putting itself in danger - it's required to under federal law. It's especially important in Alaska and other remote regions where the Coast Guard may be too far away to respond quickly.

The Coast Guard offers some guidelines for Good Samaritan vessels, including the following:

  • Don't put yourself or your vessel in danger.
  • Take necessary safety precautions such as donning PFDs or immersion suits.
  • Communicate your response plan with your crew, the vessel you're assisting and the Coast Guard.

Sometimes, as in the case of the Pacific Star response, Good Samaritan vessels may simply be standing by in case a situation gets worse. Or you might be first on the scene and able to help until the Coast Guard can get there. Regardless of the situation, make sure you understand how best you can help while still keeping yourself safe.

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