(photograph courtesy of the United States Coast Guard)

Early Sunday morning, the Coast Guard called off the search for the skipper of the WHITE SWAN III, a 32-foot fishing vessel that sank about 35 miles offshore of Florence, Oregon.  One other crewmember was rescued by the Coast Guard but was unresponsive and later pronounced dead.  The cause of the sinking remains under investigation.

The Coast Guard first received a distress call from the vessel shortly after midnight on Saturday, March 26.  The WHITE SWAN’s master reported that the vessel was taking on water and sinking in the northern section of the Heceta Banks fishery.  Upon receiving the mayday call, the Coast Guard activated a rescue operation and deployed a 47-foot motor lifeboat crew from Coast Guard Station Siuslaw River.  Several Coast Guard aircraft, additional motor lifeboat crews, and the Coast Guard Cutter Orcas joined the search shortly thereafter.

A processor onboard the vessel AMERICA’S FINEST owned by Fisherman’s Finest Inc. suffered a serious foot injury while fishing near St. George Island in the Aleutian Islands west of Alaska.  The processor’s injury was severe enough that the vessel requested a helicopter medical evacuation from the U.S. Coast Guard at 0230 on Thursday, March 17, 2022.

After initiating the medevac, AMERICA’S FINEST headed toward Dutch Harbor, Alaska, where the Coast Guard planned to take the processor after retrieving him from the vessel.  The Coast Guard deployed an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from the Cutter Alex Haley and simultaneously launched an HC-130 Hercules airplane from Air Station Kodiak to provide further support and observation.

Upon arriving at the vessel, the Dolphin helicopter lowered a rescue swimmer and hoisted the processor from AMERICA’S FINEST shortly before 1300 on March 17.  Beyond the normal challenges of conducting aerial rescues at sea, the Coast Guard crew also had to contend with severe weather conditions including 15-foot seas, freezing ocean spray, and 30 mph winds occasionally gusting to 40 mph.  The USCG’s ability to complete the rescue under such adverse conditions exemplifies the extreme skill and unique talents of the Coast Guard servicemen.

On Sunday, February 21, 2021, an injured fisherman required medical evacuation from the Alaska Ocean. The 45 year old crewman suffered a crushed arm. No details about the injury are currently available. The Alaska Ocean is the largest catcher processor in the Bering Sea carrying a crew of 135 seamen.

When injured, deckhands and fish processors aboard factory trawlers are entitled to benefits under Federal Maritime Law.  The vessel must pay for all reasonable and necessary medical treatment and provide a daily living allowance while the crewman is recovering from his/her injuries.

The Jones Act provides compensation for crewman who are injured as a result of negligence and unseaworthiness.  Compensation under the Jones Act includes compensation for pain and suffering, disability, and past and future wage loss.  Crewmen injured by even slight negligence are entitled to recover under the Jones Act.

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