Life Rafts, Epirbs and Survival Suits
All Fishing Vessels Should be Equipped with Seaworthy Life Rafts, Current EPIRBS, and Properly Maintained Survival Suits. Stacey & Jacobsen, PLLC - Maritime Lawyers Experienced in Fishing Vessel Sinking Cases.
Working as a commercial fisherman is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. Each vessel must be prepared, trained, and equipped for an emergency should disaster suddenly strike their vessel. All fishing vessels should be equipped with seaworthy life rafts, current EPIRBS, and properly maintained survival suits. The crew of the vessel should regularly train in abandon ship drills, including donning of survival suits, how to launch the life rafts, and location of the vessel’s EPIRB. The crew must be trained and able to issue a May Day and give the Coast Guard the proper location of their vessel. Investigations into the sinkings of fishing vessels in Alaska have proven that training, drills, and state-of-the-art survival equipment can, and does, save lives. Safety isn’t an option aboard a fishing vessel – it is a mandatory obligation.
When activated, an EPIRB sends an electronic single to a satellite that is then relayed to the Coast Guard. The coordinates of the EPIRB and the identity of the ship is contained in the signal. Depending upon weather conditions, this allows the Coast Guard to narrow the search for a ship in distress or that has sunk. Survival suits permit crewmen to survive for many hours in otherwise deadly, freezing waters. If crewmen can don survival suits and get into their life rafts, their odds of surviving a fishing vessel sinking are greatly increased.
Stacey & Jacobsen, PLLC is one of the Nation’s most experienced maritime personal injury firms. Unexpected tragedy can strike even the best commercial fishing vessels in a matter of seconds. Safety training can make the difference on whether the crew of the vessel survives. Stacey & Jacobsen, PLLC has represented families in such high profile wrongful death fishing vessel sinking cases as the Arctic Rose, Alaska Ranger, Aleutian Enterprise, Pace Setter, Galaxy, Amber Dawn, Pacific Apollo, and many others. They have learned hard lessons from these past tragedies at sea. They know what training must be done aboard fishing vessels, and they know what survival equipment is essential to protecting crewmen’s lives. A crew that is not properly trained, or a vessel without proper survival equipment, is unseaworthy as a matter of law. A crewman shouldn’t have to trust his life to a 25-year-old life raft, or a survival suit that doesn’t fit or that leaks.
Regulations Relating to Training and Survival Equipment on Fishing Vessels
In 1991, the Fishing Vessel Safety Act, 46 CFR Sec. 28, was enacted. The Fishing Vessel Safety Act requires almost all commercial fishing vessels to carry survival craft and Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBs). This critical survival equipment must be regularly inspected and serviced in accordance with safety regulations. Sec. 28.270 requires fishing vessels operating beyond the “boundary line” to conduct safety drills every 30 days in abandon ship, launching of survival craft, fire-fighting, combating down-flooding, testing of general alarms, making May Day calls, and donning immersion suits. The Fishing Vessel Safety Act also sets minimum stability requirements for fishing vessels more than 79 feet in length.