Four commercial fishermen were rescued after their vessel, the F/V ALASKA ROSE, capsized in heavy seas on Sunday, January 20.
According to the U.S. Coast Guard, the crew of the ALASKA ROSE radioed for help at about 4:30 pm when their vessel began taking on water northeast of Kodiak Island. The Coast Guard mobilized a helicopter from Air Station Kodiak and also issued an emergency call for help over VHF radio.
In less than 30 minutes, the USCG helicopter crew hoisted one of the seamen from overturned vessel. Minutes later, a nearby good Samarian vessel pulled the other three crewmembers from the water. All four were taken to Kodiak for evaluation and emergency medical care. There were no immediate reports of injuries to the seamen.
Although the circumstances of the capsizing remain unclear, weather in the area included 30-knot winds and seas up to 8-feet. Water temperatures hovered around 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Based on available information regarding commercial fishing openers around the time of the sinking, it appears the vessel had been participating in a six-day Tanner crab opener.
Particularly in winter, commercial fishermen in Alaska are at risk of hypothermia, cold exposure, and other injuries. If a vessel capsizes, seamen have only minutes before hypothermia sets in. Fishing vessels and other ships are required to carry large, insulated “survival suits” for use in the even of a sinking. The survival suits both help seamen stay afloat and guard against the cold, buying valuable time for rescue.
Commercial fishing is one of the most dangerous jobs in Alaska and across the nation. Due to limited emergency medical supplies on ships, long waits for rescue, and a fast work pace with heavy equipment, injuries at sea are often more serious than on shore.
Commercial fishermen and other seamen injured while working on vessels are entitled to unique protections and claims. Maritime claims available to injured seamen under admiralty law include claims for negligence under the Jones Act, breach of the warranty of seaworthiness with respect to dangerous conditions and equipment on vessels, and claims under the doctrine of “maintenance and cure” for medical costs and costs of living while recovering from an injury.
The maritime lawyers at Trueb Berne & Beard have more than 80 years’ experience representing injured seamen in Alaska, Oregon, and Washington. If you suffer a commercial fishing injury, contact our office to discuss your options and your rights under maritime law.