The ALASKA JURIS, a factory trawler owned and operated by the Fishing Company of Alaska, began to sink in the Bering Sea on Tuesday, forcing the crew of 46 to don survival suits and abandon ship.  The Coast Guard says the ship had a problem in the engine room that led to flooding.  As the ship flooded, it reportedly lost power and threw the propeller into reverse.  The incident occurred near Kiska Island, about 690 miles west of Dutch Harbor, Alaska.

The crew are reported to have been rescued by Good Samaritan vessels, the SPAR CANIS and the VIENNA EXPRESS, and transported to Adak Island.  By the time rescuers found the crew, it is reported that sailors had been unable to reach lifeboats and were bobbing in frigid waters.  The Coast Guard plans to conduct a flyover on July 28, 2016, to determine whether the vessel is still afloat and if any pollution spilled.

The Fishing Company of Alaska is the same company that owned and operated the ALASKA RANGER, another factory trawler that sank in the Bering Sea on March 23, 2008.  Five people died in that tragedy.  Reports have surfaced of other cases of injury and death aboard Fishing Company of Alaska vessels, including the ALASKA JURIS.  According to U.S News, in March 2012, a crewmember aboard the JURIS died after a cable snapped and struck him in the head, and days later another deckhand sustained a head injury when another cable snapped.  U.S. News also cites an instance of crewmembers being exposed to ammonia leaks in May of 2012.

The Fishing Company of Alaska has an unenviable safety record.  The firm of Anderson, Carey & Williams has prosecuted numerous claims against the Company over the past couple of decades.  In addition to representing crewmembers aboard the ALASKA RANGER who sustained physical and emotional injuries, the firm has represented a number of other crewmembers injured due to negligence and unseaworthiness of vessels owned and operated by the Fishing Company of Alaska.

We await the results of the initial investigation by the Coast Guard, but the likelihood of a vessel sinking in expectable, indeed benign sea conditions in the middle of summer without some fault in the condition or operation of the vessel seems remote.

Anderson Carey & Williams has represented seamen and their families for over thirty-five years throughout the United States. With offices in Seattle and Bellingham, Washington, and Portland, Oregon, the attorneys of Anderson Carey & Williams are collectively admitted to practice in Washington, Alaska, Oregon, California, Florida, Arizona, and Washington D.C.

Video Credit: Associated Press