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Coast Guard’s Investigative Report Released in Seattle Fishing Vessel Tragedy

Posted on March 2, 2019Posted By Russell & Hill, PLLCPosted In Maritime Injury

Seattle maritime injury attorneys know that working in the maritime industry is extremely dangerous and unfortunately, the families of 6 crewmen who lost their lives on a Seattle fishing vessel do as well. On February 11, 2017, Seattle based crab boat, the Destination, went down in the Bering Sea, killing all six crewmembers aboard. After a two year investigation, the U.S. Coast Guard has finally released its findings in a 138 page document detailing the factors that led to the boat’s capsize and lost lives.

Factors that led to the tragedy

The Coast Guard’s report provided that the following factors led to the Destination’s tragic ending:

  • Weather conditions – The captain chose to take the boat out into hazardous freezing spray weather conditions and the Destination encountered rough seas.
  • The boat was overloaded – The Destination was overloaded and did not meet stability standards in accordance with federal commercial fishing regulations.
  • Ice buildup – The freezing spray led to a build up of ice on the already overloaded boat. The ice was not properly removed making the boat very top heavy and unstable.
  • Open hatch – A hatch was left open which allowed for rapid flooding and did not give crewmembers time to react.

Deadline pressure

The crew reportedly got a late start on the crab season due to the previous long cod season. Because of the late start, the captain was concerned about meeting the boat’s crab quota and delivering it to the processing plant before its crab processing shutdown deadline. It is believed by many that the pressure to meet the deadline was the reason the captain decided to head out into such dangerous weather conditions.

There are big payouts for delivering large catches to processing plants and conversely, there are big losses for failing to meet quota and failing to deliver catches by plant shutdown deadlines. Federal regulations are in place to protect crewmembers from facing the same dangers that the Destination crew faced due to their boat being in violation of some of those regulations.

NTSB investigation

The National Transportation Safety Board released its own report last year, which provided that the accident was caused by the captain’s decision to go out in such hazardous conditions, followed by failing to have the crew removed the ice buildup from the vessel.

Common causes of maritime accidents

Crew jobs are notoriously dangerous and so are many other types of jobs in the maritime industry. Other dangers exist when it comes to recreational boating as well, especially when you are in the busy Puget Sound area frequented by cargo ships, ferries, cruises, fishing vessels, and recreational boat traffic. Common maritime accidents resulting in injuries include the following:

  • Two vessels colliding
  • A vessel strikinh a person in the water or on small water recreational equipment like a jet ski
  • Falling overboard
  • Boat capsizing
  • Vessel grounding
  • Cargo hauling accidents
  • Electrical accidents
  • Chemical exposure
  • Crane accidents

Seattle maritime injury attorneys at Russell & Hill, PLLC represent people who have sustained injuries in offshore accidents. If you have been injured in a maritime accident, contact a maritime expert for a free consultation at 800-529-0842.

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