Commercial Fishing Vessel Sent Back to Port for Safety Violations
Last Tuesday, a U.S. Coast Guard law enforcement team escorted the F/V BRYNN TAMARA to port in Metlakatla, Alaska, after discovering several safety violations during a random safety check. According to a Coast Guard press release, the lone fisherman aboard the 24-foot vessel “did not have required safety gear including cold water immersion suits, emergency flares, a life ring, a sound producing device and fire extinguishers.” The vessel will not be allowed to leave port again until all violations have been corrected.
Failing to equip a vessel with proper safety equipment is considered negligence. If a commercial fisherman is injured or killed because of missing or defective equipment, the fishing company may be legally liable under maritime law. For instance, in a case involving the drowning deaths of two commercial fishermen, Latti & Anderson LLP argued negligence and unseaworthiness, including failure to upkeep the vessel’s survival suits, at least one of which had a broken zipper, and failure to perform monthly safety drills of donning the survival suits. A jury awarded over $1 million with interest to the fishermen’s estates.
According to Vince Grochowski, search and rescue controller at Coast Guard Sector Juneau, “It is extremely important for mariners to have a minimum level of gear on board their vessel. In the event of an on the water emergency, these essential tools are the boaters first line of defense and all they will have to ensure their safety until assistance can arrive from the Coast Guard or another prepared boater.”
Latti & Anderson LLP – Boston maritime trial lawyers