Crew fatigue contributing to commercial fishing vessel groundings

A Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew conducts an overflight of the grounded fishing vessel Savannah Ray after reports of a diesel sheen near Kodiak Island, Alaska, March 5, 2015. The Savannah Ray initially ran aground Feb. 16, 2015, with four people aboard who were rescued by an aircrew from Air Station Kodiak. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

A Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew conducts an overflight of the grounded fishing vessel Savannah Ray after reports of a diesel sheen near Kodiak Island, Alaska, March 5, 2015. The Savannah Ray initially ran aground Feb. 16, 2015, with four people aboard who were rescued by an aircrew from Air Station Kodiak. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

In light of recent groundings in the State of Alaska involving uninspected commercial fishing vessels, owners/operators are reminded to be cognizant of crew fatigue while on watch. Since July 14, 2015 there have been 16 reported commercial fishing vessel groundings across Alaska’s waterways and preliminary investigations have concluded that at least five of the groundings were the result of crew fatigue. During the course of several investigations, masters and crew members admitted to Coast Guard Marine Investigators that they fell asleep at the helm after working long hours for several days.

Maritime operations can open crewmembers up to challenges that compromise their alertness and performance. Exposure to 24/7 fishing vessel operations and restricted sleep opportunities can result in frequent sleep disruptions, increasing contact with fatigue and effective situational awareness. These risk factors can have a negative impact on productivity and crew safety.

A Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter rescue crew from Cordova responds to the Seattle-based 100-foot fishing vessel Cape Cross after it ran aground in Prince William Sound. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

A Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter rescue crew from Cordova responds to the Seattle-based 100-foot fishing vessel Cape Cross after it ran aground in Prince William Sound. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

The groundings have resulted in expensive damage repair costs, total loss of vessels, damage to the environment from fuels oil spills which can result in a vessel owner/operator becoming financially responsible for the cleanup and possible civil penalties from negligent operations.

There are measures that can be employed on vessels to help crew members on watch to remain alert while at the helm. While not required or all inclusive, the Coast Guard recommends vessel owners/operators install a watch stander alarm onboard their fishing vessel and set the intervals as frequently as necessary to help keep watch standers alert. Other measures include electronic navigation equipment (e.g., GPS, radar or echo depth sounder) with alarms loud enough and appropriate for the environment of operation. An additional consideration is to increase the number of watch standers at your vessels operation station or seek healthy lifestyle information that can also be useful to improve your crews fatigue levels.

These recommendations cannot take the place of proper rest prior to each watch. The Coast Guard can provide assistance with crew endurance management and additional information can be found at: http://www.uscg.mil/hq/cg5/cg5211/cems.asp

This safety alert is provided for informational purposes only and does not relieve any domestic operational or material requirements. Developed by Sector Anchorage and Marine Safety Unit Valdez and the Office of Investigations and Analysis, Washington, DC. For questions or concerns please email hqs-pf-fldr-cg-inv@uscg.mil.

The 58-foot commercial fishing vessel Defiant aground in Dog Bay near St. Paul Harbor. The owner of the vessel waited until high tide to refloat his vessel. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

The 58-foot commercial fishing vessel Defiant aground in Dog Bay near St. Paul Harbor. The owner of the vessel waited until high tide to refloat his vessel. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

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