Nautical News: For the week of March 4th, 2012

COAST GUARD HELICOPTER CRASH LEAVES 4 DEAD

A Coast Guard helicopter on a training mission crashed Tuesday night in Mobile Bay in Alabama. The helicopter carried a crew of four. Rescue crews who arrived on scene shortly after the crash recovered a crewmember from the helicopter who was later declared deceased. He was the rescue swimmer aboard the craft. After an extensive search and rescue effort with hopes of finding the other three was exhausted, the mission was changed to a salvage and recovery operation. Then on Thursday night, Coast Guard officials reported they had recovered the bodies of two of the three missing crew members. Also, the tail section and the fuselage of the French built helicopter was recovered as was the flight data recorder, which is hoped to be beneficial in determining the cause of the crash.


MASSACHUSETTS OFFERS TO BUY BACK RECREATIONAL FISH PERMITS

The Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries is collaborating with NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service to conduct an unusual survey on the economic value of the state’s recreational saltwater fishery. They are sending checks up to $500 to recreational fishermen, bribing them to surrender their 2012 saltwater fishing license that was purchased for $10, along with the promise that they will not fish for one year. About $145,000 was allocated to conduct the survey, with about $75,000 allotted for the cash offers. The purpose of the survey is to determine how much a value people put on their right to fish.


FIRE AT DORCHESTER YACHT CLUB

Workers on a barge doing some welding under a pier at the Dorchester Yacht Club are believed to be the cause of a two alarm fire. The fire caused about $50,000 in damage. Fortunately, the main building of the yacht club was not damaged. One of the problems the Boston Fire Department had to deal with was getting its new, large Boston Fire boat to the club. It couldn’t fit under the Morrissey Boulevard drawbridge, so had to wait about 15 minutes until a bridge tender arrived to open the bridge. However, MassPort’s “Little Boat” was able to fit under the bridge and get under the pier to help fight the fire. A dive team was also on scene in case they had to go in the water.


SEARCH ON FOR MISSING KAYAKER IN GLOUCESTER

The Coast Guard searched for a possible missing kayaker near Wingaersheek Beach, Gloucester, Mass, after police found a kayak adrift. The kayak had no markings or contact information on it, so the Coast Guard had no idea how the kayak ended up in the water. Anyone who might know the owner or the circumstances of why the kayak was adrift is urged to contact authorities immediately. The Coast Guard asks all paddlers to mark their canoes and kayaks to aid them in the event the vessel breaks loose or drifts away, so they can avoid spending thousands of dollars searching for a possible missing person in the water and risking the lives of the searchers.


COMMERCIAL FISHING VESSEL SAFETY DAY IN MARSHFIELD

Marshfield Harbormaster Mike Dimeo has arranged for a Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety Day set for this Wednesday, March 7th, 10:00 am – 1:00 pm at the Marshfield Municipal Airport. A USCG helicopter flight crew will conduct a question and answer session regarding their missions. The public is invited to take a close look at the helicopter as well. There will be demonstrations on how to use and care for survival suits, life rafts, and flares. Again, this is a free event open to the public. It is this Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Marshfield airport.


HULL LIFESAVING MUSEUM’S BOAT SHOP RECEIVES GRANT

The Hull Lifesaving Museum has received a grant from the Lenny Zakim Fund for a maritime apprentice program for at risk young adults. Based in a boat shop in downtown Boston, the program provides skills, training, and counseling to young adults between the ages of 17 and 22.


COMMUTER BOAT MEETING IN HULL

And speaking of the Town of Hull, the Mass Bay Transit Authority will be holding a public hearing regarding the fate of the South Shore commuter boat service this Wednesday evening, 7 p.m. at the Hull Memorial Middle School. Latest rumors suggest that the commuter boat service will be turned over to the Mass Port Authority, who in turn will increase fares and cut back on service.


NEW SEAFOOD LANDINGS RECORD SET IN MAINE

Maine’s Department of Marine Resource reported that commercial seafood landings topped 276 million pounds in 2011, the state’s largest catch since 2004. Maine’s most valuable species was, of course, lobster, with the catch coming in at a record 103.9 million pounds. In terms of value, after lobster were softshell clams, herring, and baby eels.


TUNA BOAT TOWING DISABLED CRUISE SHIP

And last on today’s nautical news, another Italian Cruise ship, the Costa Allegra, became disabled and was adrift for several days after a fire developed in its engine room. The one thousand people on board were without electricity, air conditioning, toilet facilities or showers. The Costa Allegra had departed from Madagascar, off Africa’s southeast coast, and was cruising toward Port Victoria, Seychelles when the fire erupted about 300 miles off the coast of Seychelles. The cruise ship was in an area of the ocean where there isn’t much maritime traffic. Therefore, when the captain of a French tuna fishing boat came along three days after the fire and offered to tow the cruise ship for a fee, his offer was accepted. When tugboats arrived from Seychelles to take over the tow, the French fishing boat refused to give it up. Seychelles is a chain of resort islands that attracts celebrities, royalty, and Somali pirates. Ironically, the ship’s name Allegra means “be happy.”


About John Shea