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WASHINGTON, D.C. —  The Coast Guard on Wednesday released its final

report of the investigation into the March 23, 2008, sinking of the

fish-processing vessel Alaska Ranger and the subsequent loss of

five of the 47 people aboard the ship.

"margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica;">The

Alaska Ranger sank approximately 130 miles west of Dutch Harbor,

Alaska. Of the 47 people aboard, 42 were rescued, four deceased

crewmembers were recovered and one remains missing and is presumed

dead. The Coast Guard rescued 20 of the Alaska Ranger’s crew

through multiple hoists conducted by HH-60 and HH-65 helicopters,

with survivors being transported to and cared for aboard the Coast

Guard Cutter Munro. The fishing vessel Alaska Warrior rescued 22

survivors from two liferafts and recovered three deceased crew

members from the frigid water.  The fourth deceased crewmember was

recovered by the Coast Guard.

"margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica;">The

Alaska Ranger was a 189-foot, 1,577 gross ton, fish-processing

vessel in the Bering Sea/Aleutian Island federal groundfish trawl

fisheries. The vessel was owned by the Fishing Company of

Alaska.

"margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica;">The

report of investigation details the findings of the Coast Guard’s

marine board of investigation as well as recommendations for

enhancing safety for fishing vessels.

"margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica;">The

Board determined that the cause of the sinking was flooding that

likely started in the rudder room, but rapidly progressed to the

engine room and other spaces due to a lack of watertight

integrity.

"margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica;">While

the exact source of the uncontrolled flooding remains unknown, a

thorough analysis of the facts indicates the most likely source was

related to the vessel's poor material condition and may have been

related to the Kort nozzle struts. The struts support the nozzles

shrouding the propellers at the stern of the vessel and are

believed to have experienced excessive stresses where they were

attached to the vessel's hull.

"margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica;">The

Board concluded that the Fishing Company of Alaska failed to

properly maintain the structural condition of the Alaska Ranger.

Evidence of extensive and repeated fracturing of the nozzle struts

and structural failures in the aft ballast tanks and potable water

tanks went unaddressed.

"margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica;">At the

time of the casualty, the Fishing Company of Alaska had enrolled

the Alaska Ranger into the Coast Guard's Alternate Compliance

Safety Agreement Program, commonly referred to as ACSA. However,

ACSA had not yet been effectively implemented, and the Alaska

Ranger, with several outstanding deficiencies, was not in

compliance with all ACSArequirements.

"margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica;">Based on

its findings, the Board made 37 recommendations that address the

lack of comprehensive safety regulations for fishing vessels,

facilitate the consistent application of existing regulations and

correct shortcomings in the ACSA program that existed at the time

of the casualty.

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Recommendations were also made to ensure crew members have properly

sized immersion suits, and to clarify and enforce requirements for

licensed crewmembers.

"margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica;">Related

to the investigation, the Coast Guard published two marine safety

alerts. Alert 1-08, published on May 9, 2009, urged owners and

operators to take immediate action to ensure the watertight

integrity of their vessels. Alert 3-08, published July 2, 2008,

emphasized the need for vessel owners, operators and masters with

controllable pitch propellers to understand the design and

operation of their system.

"margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica;">The

Coast Guard's 2010 Authorization Act, signed in October 2010, set

new requirements for commercial fishing vessels that, when

implemented, are expected to enhance crew and vessel safety.

Included in the Act are provisions for mandatory safety

examinations for vessels operating beyond three miles at sea, as

well as construction standards for new vessels greater than 50 feet

in length. Additional standards will also be imposed for vessels

greater than 79 feet in length.

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According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and

Health, from 1994 to 2004, 641 commercial fishermen died while

fishing in the United States. Vessel sinkings resulted in more than

half of all fatalities. While work-related fatalities for

commercial fishermen in Alaska are still very high, they have

decreased by 42 percent since the early 1990s. This success is due,

in part, to the Coast Guard implementing new safety requirements in

the early 1990s.

"margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica;">The

Report of Investigation may be downloaded from the U.S. Coast

Guard’s Office of Investigations and Analysis Web site at

"http://marineinvestigations.us">http://marineinvestigations.us

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