Offshore InjuryBlog

Ship Sinks on Alaska Coast—46 Crew Members Abandon Ship

Just before noon Tuesday morning, the crew of the Alaska Juris were faced with a terrible problem:

Their ship was sinking.

The 220-foot fishing vessel (specifically a factory trawler, which drags nets in order to catch fish) began taking on water in the late morning, on a day only notable for the heavy fog and low visibility. Otherwise, the weather and winds were calm.

The Alaska Juris allegedly experienced mechanical problems in the engine room the day before. As a result, the ship was dead in the water for hours, floating in the frigid waters of the Bering Sea more than 150 miles northwest of Adak. It began taking on water early in the day, but help was unable to arrive until hours later.

The 46-member crew were rescued by merchant vessels in the area—Spar Canis and Vienna Express. All crew members were safely taken aboard while the Alaska Juris sank into the cold, dark waters. Thankfully, no crew were reported injured.

Patterns Emerge on a Closer Look

The Alaska Juris is owned by the Fishing Company of Alaska, a leading seafood company—and a leader in disasters on the high-seas. They have been repeatedly criticized for prioritizing profits and yield over the safety of their crew.

Here is a “brief” list of the events associated with this company’s boats:

  • 1994: Ship fire results in the death of a sailor
  • 1998: Vessel sinks, but the crew safely escapes
  • 2008: Another trawler sinks, killing the skipper and 4 sailors
  • 2012: An Alaska Juris sailor is killed when a cable snaps
  • 2012: Yet another Alaska Juris crew is injured by a snapped cable
  • 2012: The Alaska Juris leaks ammonia, harming 3 crew members
  • 2013: Coast Guard helicopter lifts an injured seaman from the Alaska Juris

At Arnold & Itkin, we sincerely hope this is the last high-seas disaster we'll hear about for a while. High-seas injuries should be regarded with care, and every safety precaution should be taken to prevent the injury or death of sailors. When injuries and disasters occur this frequently, it may be time to re-evaluate policies and procedures.

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