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ACTUAL LIVES SAVED BY INDICATED EQUIPMENT:
Lifejackets L/F-B/A Inf. B/A

13

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Liferaft

MINIMUM EQUIPMENT NEEDED TO SAVE INDICATED NUMBER OF LIVES:

Lifejackets L/F-B/A Inf. B/A Liferaft

13

MINIMUM EQUIPMENT NEEDED TO PREVENT INDICATED NUMBER OF INJURIES:

Lifeiackets L/F-B/A Inf. BA Liferaft

13

MERRY JANE, 2/86

Unlike all of the other boats in this study, the MERRY JANE was of fiberglass reinforced plastic construction. The vessel experienced a near-capsizing entering Bodega Bay, California and 19 people fell overboard into 52• F water. The MERRY JANE was able to recover and assisted in the recovery of those in the water. Like the SAN MATEO, this casualty was witnessed and even photographed from shore. The deckhand was able to transmit an immediate call for help on VHF-FM channel 16, and assistance from another small passenger vessel and Coast Guard boats was on scene in several minutes. One passenger had a lifejacket on and was picked up by the MERRY JANE shortly after the accident. The crew got two of the three life floats into the water with some difficulty due to their weight and the height of the rack in which they were stowed. One person was able to reach and hold onto one of the life floats. He too was rescued. The others were in the water without flotation assistance, except for some floating debris such as coolers, a table, and a bench, which some survivors were apparently able to use with limited effectiveness. All ten who survived were picked up within 10-20 minutes. Nine were lost. The life floats and 11fejackets were of limited effectiveness, assisting only 2 of the 19 persons overboard. Some lifejackets were thrown into the water, but no one was able to reach them. In view of the harbor entrance conditions, the most effective measure would have been requiring everyone on the open decks to wear a lifejacket while in the hazardous waters entering the bay. An EPIRB was on board, but was not needed or used.

The MERRY JANE accident was in no way related to hull condition or material of construction.

ACTUAL LIVES SAVED BY INDICATED EQUIPMENT:

Lifejackets L/F-BZA Inf. BIA
1

1

Liferaft

MINIMUM EQUIPMENT NEEDED TO SAVE INDICATED NUMBER OF LIVES:

Lifejackets L/F-B/A Inf. BIA Liferaft

19*

MINIMUM EQUIPMENT NEEDED TO PREVENT INDICATED NUMBER OF INJURIES:

Lifelackets L/F-BA Inf. BU Liferaft

19*

Lifejackets should have been worn under hazardous harbor entrance conditions.

FISH-N-FOOL, 2/87

The FISH-N-FOOL capsized in a 20 ft high wave about 4 miles off the mainland of Baja California, and 25 miles from an island. Twelve people were forced into 59• F water. Three of them apparently died shortly afterward, directly or indirectly as a result of injuries sustained in the capsizing. One survivor the alternate operator - managed to stay near the capsized boat hanging onto a hatch cover and a barrel. About an hour later, the boat turned in the water in such a way that its four trapped life floats and EPIRB were released. She lashed the life floats together and secured a board over one of them to provide a platform on which she could sit on and stay relatively dry. She made sure the EPIRB was operating and then awaited rescue by a Coast Guard helicopter over seven hours later.

The other eight survivors became separated from the capsized boat. As a group, they decided to swim for the island. Four of them found debris including an ice chest, a bleach bottle, and a piece of plywood to provide flotation. Only one was still alive 6 hours later when he got close enough to the island to call for help from fishermen on shore. There was no opportunity to call for help over the radio. The EPIRB worked and was heard by a Coast Guard HU-25 aircraft about 14 hours after the accident which happened to be carrying a helicopter part to La Paz, Mexico. With the source of the signal unknown, and considering the HU-25's location and fuel constraints, it was decided to send another HU-25 from San Diego, 150 miles away, to locate the signal. This aircraft located the EPIRB and the survivor about 4 hours after the casualty. An HH65 helicopter was launched from San Diego to perform the rescue. It arrived and picked her up 7 hours after the casualty. NO SARSAT information was apparently used during the search and rescue phase of this casualty.

The life floats and the EPIRB probably saved the life of the alternate operator. She was fortunate in that she had a board to put over the floats to get completely out of the water. It is

unlikely that inflatable buoyant apparatus or inflatable liferafts would have made any difference in this case. Only the alternate operator was in the vicinity of the capsized boat when the life floats floated free. The same situation would have existed with float free lifesaving appliances of any type. The only possible difference might have been made by the parachute flares on board an inflatable liferaft. Being so close to land, she might have been able to attract attention from people on shore. This could have led to the rescue of some of the others who did not survive the 6 hours swim to the island. A satellite EPIRB might also have brought rescue faster. Because its signal identifies the source and its location, some of the ambiguity associated with a Class A EPIRB would have been eliminated. This would have saved valuable time in locating the signal, and deciding whether or not to enter Mexican airspace to pursue the search. The FISH-N-FOOL accident was in no way attributed to hull condition or material of construction.

ACTUAL LIVES SAVED BY INDICATED EQUIPMENT:

Life jackets L/F-B/A* Inf. B/A w/ Class A EPIRB 0

2

Liferaft

MINIMUM EQUIPMENT NEEDED TO SAVE INDICATED NUMBER OF LIVES:

Lifejackets L/F-B/A* Inf. B/A Liferaft w/ sat. EPIRB

7 w/ no EPIRB

7

MINIMUM EQUIPMENT NEEDED TO PREVENT INDICATED NUMBER OF INJURIES:

Lifejackets L/F-B/A Inf. B/A Liferaft w/ sat. EPIRB

7 w/ no EPIRB

7.

* Includes flotsam providing flotation equivalent to buoyant apparatus. CAPT JIM, 4/89 The CAPT JIM had 61 persons on board when it caught fire, burned to the waterline and sank about 4 miles off of the South Carolina coast. Water temperature was reported as 68•• F. The CAPT JIM had no EPIRB. The operator was unable to broadcast a distress message due to loss of power as a result of the fire. The fire was discovered about 9:00 A.m., and everyone abandoned ship wearing lifejackets. Lifejackets stowed in the passenger lunge were unaccessible due to the fire, but the lifejackets stowed in a deck box were sufficient for the number of persons on board at the time. Four life floats were on board, but because of their 200-lb weight, they were difficult to lift and launch. Consequently, only one was launched into the water. Fouling of painter lines also complicated the launching. Rescue was carried out within 30 minutes by other vessels in the area which were attracted to the fire by the smoke.

47-047 98-9

The vessel was certificated for 120 persons on coastwise voyages within 20 miles of a harbor of safe refuge. Life floats for a total of 60 persons were provided in accordance with the 50% requirement for vessels in such services. Because of the favorable conditions and the proximity of assistance, the 11fejackets were adequate for survival of all on board. Limited availability of some of the life floats and lifejackets could have been a problem if the vessel was fully loaded with 120 persons. Because of the proximity of assistance, a satellite EPIRB would not have been a factor in this casualty. If the other vessels had not been in the area to assist, an EPIRB would have been the only means of communicating any report of a distress. The CAPT JIM was 17 years old, which is not old for a wooden vessel. The fire started in the engine room, possibly in electrical wiring, but spread throughout the vessel which then burned to the waterline. It may be concluded that wooden construction contributed to the loss of the vessel, but age was probably not a factor.

ACTUAL LIVES SAVED BY INDICATED EQUIPMENT :
Lifejackets L/F-B/A Inf. B/A

15

Liferaft

46

MINIMUM EQUIPMENT NEEDED TO SAVE INDICATED NUMBER OF LIVES:

Life jackets L/F-B/A Inf. BA Liferaft w/ sat. EPIRB 61 w/ no EPIRB

61

MINIMUM EQUIPMENT NEEDED TO PREVENT INDICATED NUMBER OF INJURIES:

Lifejackets L/F-B/A Inf. B/A Liferaft w/ sat. EPIRB w/ no EPIRB

61

61

COUGAR, 9/88

The COUGAR had nine persons on board and sank about 36 miles off of the Oregon coast in 56° F water. The COUGAR had no EPIRB and the only lifesaving apparatus was a 13-person buoyant apparatus. Such a device is designed for survivors to hold onto and would have a buoyancy of about 420 lb. Two of the survivors sat on top of the buoyant apparatus, and after 17 hours, they were the only ones who did not require hospitalization. sitting with only their legs in the water, these two probably reduced the buoyancy available to others to about 120 lb. Their centers of gravity : foot or so above the water surface would also have reduced the stability of the buoyant apparatus. Indeed, additional survivors were unable to climb on top because of the combined effects of reduced buoyancy and stability. Three others were able to hold onto the buoyant apparatus, but two died before they could be rescued. An additional three people used a piece of wooden debris for flotation. The only survivor of this group was the

only one able so stay on top of the debris for most of the time. One last survivor was wearing a lifejacket and also had an additional 11fejacket for flotation. This survivor was hospitalized with a body core temperature of 77o. Literature on hypothermia indicates that this is a temperature at which 'apparent death" occurs.

If the COUGAR had been equipped with an operating satellite EPIRB, Coast Guard rescue units probably would have been on scene in a few hours. This would have been in time to save at least 8 of the 9 persons on board. To save everyone on board, the vessel would have needed an inflatable buoyant apparatus. Considering the COUGAR's double planked hull and drydock Inspection four months before, investigators tended to rule out huli failure as the cause of the sinking, but did cite possible failed through-hull fittings, wet exhaust system, faulty bilge system, or faulty hatch covers. The loss of the COUGAR can not therefore be related to its wood construction, but could be related to its age (45 years).

ACTUAL LIVES SAVED BY INDICATED EQUIPMENT:

Lifejackets L/F-B/A* Inf. B/A

1

Liferaft

MINIMUM EQUIPMENT NEEDED TO SAVE INDICATED NUMBER OF LIVES:

Lifejackets L/F-B/A* Inf. B/A Liferaft w/ sat. EPIRB

1
7

1
w/ no EPIRB
1

4

MINIMUM EQUIPMENT NEEDED TO PREVENT INDICATED NUMBER OF INJURIES:

Lifejackets L/F-B/A* Inf. B/A Liferaft w/ sat. EPIRB

4

5 w/ no EPIRB

2

7

Includes flotsam providing flotation equivalent to buoyant apparatus.

ALMA III, 12/88

The ALMA III had five persons on board and sank about 2 miles off of the south coast of Long Island in 48• F water. The ALMA III had no EPIRB, but the master was able to broadcast a Mayday message on VHF channels 16 and 22. This message was received by a nearby Coast Guard station, which responded with a 28 ft boat, which was on scene within 30 minutes. The vessel was certificated for 53 persons on coastwise voyages, and so had three buoyant apparatus with a combined capacity for 29 persons. All persons on board had time to put on lifejackets, and were able to hold onto one of the buoyant apparatus. Everyone was treated for hypothermia and survived this casualty, although one crewmember with health problems had to be hospitalized.

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