Alaska Ranger: Poor Maintenance, Poor Regulation Cost Lives

 Accident, Accident report, Alaska, capsize, fishing, flooding, liferaft, seafarer fatalities, Sinking  Comments Off on Alaska Ranger: Poor Maintenance, Poor Regulation Cost Lives
Jan 132011

Alaska Ranger

Poor maintenance and inadequate regulatory oversight sank the 58 metre, 1,577 gross tonne, fish-processing vessel Alaska Ranger, cost five lives and led to the biggest rescue effort in US Coastguard history says the newly released US Coast Guard investigation board report. Some 37 recommendations have been made.

One reason for the loss is that there is no single accepted definition of a ‘fish processing vessel’, which enables avoidance by the fishing industry of meeting safety standards. Continue reading »


Alaska Ranger – Conservation Laws May Endanger Seafarers

 Accident, Accident report, Alaska, fishing, flooding, Sinking  Comments Off on Alaska Ranger – Conservation Laws May Endanger Seafarers
Nov 182009

Alaska Ranger

Loss of a rudder post from the fishing vessel Alaska Ranger lead to progressive flooding exacerbated by poor watertight integrity and a unexpected sternwards movement led to the loss of five of her 47 crew, and would probably have taken more if not for the rescue efforts of the US Coast Guard and the crew of a nearby ship, the Alaska Warrior, and the vessel itself. Most of those on board were asleep at the time of the accident.

The US NTSB has issued its final report on the sinking and in part is critical of conservation laws that prohibit shipowners from replacing unsafe vessels working in some of the harshest working conditions in the world.

Continue reading »


NTSB Opens Alaska Ranger Files

 maritime safety  Comments Off on NTSB Opens Alaska Ranger Files
Sep 032009

Julio Morales, an Alaska Ranger survivor, tells his side

Documents gathered by the US National Transportation Safety Board regarding the sinking of the fishing vessel Alaska Ranger in the Bering Sea, 120 nautical miles west of Dutch on 23 March, 2008 will be made public online at 0900 on 4 September on the  Safety Board’s website.

Five of the 47 persons aboard the vessel died, one falling from a rescue basket as it was being winched into a helicopter.  The wreckage of the Alaska Ranger is at the bottom of the Bering Sea and was not examined.

Continue reading »


USCG warning on controllable pitch props

 accident reporting, CPP  Comments Off on USCG warning on controllable pitch props
Jul 042008

The US Coast Guard has issued to following safety alert:

A marine casualty in March of 2008 involving a fishing vessel in the Bering Sea resulted in multiple
fatalities and complete loss of the vessel. A Marine Board of Investigation is currently examining the
various circumstances surrounding the casualty. Although the investigation is not complete, safety
issues associated with casualty have been identified that merit immediate public dissemination.

Based on the survivors’ testimony, the crew experienced difficulty with launching and entering the
three liferafts because the vessel was making considerable sternway when the order to abandon ship
was issued. Evidence indicates the main engines were still running and the vessel was backing with
significant astern pitch. Consequently, two of the liferafts quickly traveled forward past the bow of the
vessel when they were launched. Attempts to retrieve the liferafts using the painter lines were
unsuccessful. As a result, the majority of the crew members were forced to jump into the 34°F water
and attempt to swim to the liferafts. Ultimately, only 22 members of the vessel’s crew made it into the
liferafts. All of these crew members survived. Of the other 25 crew members who never made it into
a liferaft, four died and one remains missing.

The Coast Guard strongly recommends that owners, operators, and masters of vessels with
controllable pitch propellers understand the design and operation of the system. This includes the
primary and emergency sources of power for both the control and main systems, the location and
procedures for using alternate control stations, and the locations of the emergency shutdowns. While
controllable pitch propeller systems are generally designed and constructed to fail in the “as is”
position, in hydraulic CPP systems, the actual blade pitch may change. In this case the vessel was
making considerable sternway. This was not a unique occurrence. The MS EXPLORER also
experienced this problem before it sank in November of 2007. Vessel operators, masters and crew
members must be prepared to respond accordingly.

In light of this incident, vessel owners, operators, masters and crew members should also be mindful
of the following safety issues:

1. Vessel masters and officers must maintain situational awareness at all times and understand the
effects of their actions and decisions on the safety of their crew, especially during emergency
situations involving flooding. This includes understanding what impact the vessel’s speed, heading,
heel, and trim will have on the crew as it abandons ship.

2. The master or individual in charge must evaluate the particular circumstances of each emergency
situation (weather, seas, experience of crew, condition of vessel, etc.) and adjust emergency
procedures accordingly to provide for the safety of his crew, vessel, and the environment.

3. All crew members should understand that immersion suits will affect their dexterity, limit mobility,
and may make it more difficult to launch survival craft, particularly when the survival craft are covered
with snow or ice. Crew members responsible for launching the survival craft should practice and be
able to do so with their immersion suits on. Lifesaving gear should be kept free of ice and snow
whenever possible.

4. When abandoning ship, crewmembers should make every effort to enter directly into a liferaft or
lifeboat before entering the water. If crewmembers must enter the water, they should stay together
and attempt to enter a liferaft, climb onto floating debris, or use any other means available to get
themselves out of the water as soon as possible.
5. Emergency Drills should not be limited to routine procedures such as donning immersion suits.
Emergency drills should ensure all crew members, including bridge and engine room personnel,
understand and practice what to do in various emergency situations under actual conditions.


USCG – Check bilge alarms and integrity

 Uncategorized  Comments Off on USCG – Check bilge alarms and integrity
May 122008

In the wake of the sinking of the Alaska Ranger, the US Coast has issued a marine safety alert advising vessel owners and operators to examine their vessels’ watertight integrity and the placement of high-level bilge alarms within their vessels.

The alert was issued in light of information revealed during the ongoing marine board of investigation for the sinking of the Alaska Ranger March 28, that resulted in the loss of five lives, as well as other accident investigations that identified similar issues.

The Coast Guard advised vessel owners and operators to implement a watertight door inspection program that will help ensure all watertight decks and bulkheads are inspected periodically.  The inspections should ensure the watertight doors will function properly to prevent progressive flooding in the event of an accident or other incident that causes flooding. The Coast Guard also recommended that all vessel crewmembers be familiar with the locations of watertight doors and weather tight closures throughout their vessels.

The safety alert further urged vessel owners and operators to ensure high-level bilge alarms are arranged to provide the earliest warnings of the abnormal accumulation of water.  These alarms should be set as low as possible to the deck or bilge-well along the center-most area of the bilge.