F/V Held for Preventable Safety Violations

Thursday, March 02, 2000
A USCG Captain of the Port Order will keep U.S. F/V North Command in Dutch Harbor until more than 10 safety hazards and lifesaving deficiencies are corrected, inspectors from Marine Safety Detachment Unalaska said. Inspectors boarded North Command as part of a required USCG post-search and rescue incident boarding. The vessel lost power in heavy seas about 250 miles southeast of Sand Point and had been the focus of a USCG search and rescue operation. The inspectors found nearly every piece of safety equipment aboard the vessel was inoperable or did not meet USCG regulations. Discrepancies included an inoperative EPIRB, port side navigation light and sound-producing device. The visual distress signals were expired and bare exhaust pipes were located next to fuel lines on the generators. The liferaft also required servicing since its current inspection was valid only until the end of January and North Command planned on being underway until mid-February. Discrepancies like those encountered on North Command can be identified and corrected by requesting a voluntary USCG Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety Exam. Examiners identify deficiencies prior to a vessel sailing without the potentially costly enforcement actions that result from an at-sea enforcement boarding. Vessels meeting the safety standards receive a compliance sticker documenting that fact. This compliance can help expedite at-sea boardings. As part of the USCG's nationwide program "Operation Safe Return," high risk fishing ports and docks are being saturated with Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety Examiners prior to fishing season openings to assist and educate the fishermen through more voluntary dockside exams and one-on-one personal inspections. The many fishing seasons in Alaskan waters and the 73 commercial fishing vessel fatalities in Alaska between 1994 and 1998 make Dutch Harbor/Unalaska a high risk fishing port.

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