Missing Sailor Found One Month After Chile Quake
A Gold Coast Australia man who was feared lost at sea after the 8.8-magnitude Chile earthquake has been found after 44 days missing at sea.
Mitchell Westlake, a 23-year-old former Navy officer was feared drowned by his family and friends, but this morning he called his grandfather to say he was safe and well.
Mr. Westlake was on a training cruise when his boat became becalmed more than 1,000 miles off the coast of Chile, unaware of the devastating earthquake.
Apparently, Mr. Westlake and those aboard his vessel had no idea there was a tsunami or an earthquake until they hit port.
Chilean authorities launched a search for the 16-metre yacht SS Columbia, which left Salinas, Ecuador, on January 16 on a sailing course. But, despite a major search there were no sightings or contact from the crew until now.
The yacht was expected to dock at the Chilean city of Coquimbo between February 24 and 27, the day the earthquake struck.
Is Obesity a Risk Factor in Maritime Accidents?
The nationwide epidemic of obesity in the US has finally crossed the ocean, and affected the thousands of seamen engage in maritime commerce. Obesity could dramatically impact the manner in which a seaman is able to discharge his duties on the vessel.
Those concerns were raised in a press release issued by the International Maritime Medical Association. According to the press release, the number of obese seamen on international vessels has increased substantially in recent years. Work at sea is extremely physical and strenuous work. It’s work that was designed for physically fit men, and there is even a phrase –“able-bodied seaman”- that defines how healthy a maritime worker is expected to be. Unfortunately, increasingly high caloric food and unhealthy eating habits have contributed to more cases of obesity among maritime workers.
The International Maritime Medical Association stresses that obesity is a major concern when you’re talking about a seafarer, and as maritime attorneys, we agree. Consider for instance, that all workers on board a vessel will be expected to take part in life-saving procedures during a sudden emergency on board. In such cases, seamen who are overweight and unhealthy may not be able to discharge their duties properly. They may be at a high risk of death or injury, and could increase the risk of injury of other workers on the vessel too.
Shipping companies must make worker health a bigger part of their priorities. Good health does not merely mean three meals a day. It’s high time that vessel owners and operators look into hiring nutritionists and dietitians to plan daily diets for seamen. The diet must take into consideration that these men perform extremely physical and demanding work, and must also be tailored to avoid obesity-related health issues.
The maritime lawyers at Schechter McElwee Shaffer & Harris represent injured maritime workers, including anchormen, oil rig and offshore workers, cruise ship crews, fishing vessel crews, barge and tugboat operators, and other maritime workers injured in maritime accidents in the state of Texas, and nationwide
Obama Administration Announces Opening of New Areas to Offshore Drilling
Yesterday, President Obama announced that his government will approve new oil and gas drilling sites, including in the Gulf of Mexico.
The expansion is the largest announced in more than half a century. With this, new oil and gas drilling explanation efforts may begin off the coast of Virginia, the Eastern waters of the Gulf of Mexico and in certain waters off Alaska. The new expansion does not include the sensitive Bristol Bay in Alaska, a measure that has been seen as a doff of the hat to environmentalist concerns there. Approximately 130 million acres in the Chukchi Sea and Beaufort Sea in the Arctic Ocean may become open for exploration after extensive studies.
Obviously, the news has been cheered by the oil and gas industry, especially the news that the Gulf of Mexico region will be open for new exploration. This region is already very familiar with oil drilling efforts, and with the news of the proposed expansion, shares of local companies in the region that provide offshore drilling rigs, including Diamond Offshore, and Transocean, increased yesterday.
The Interior Department will now conduct geological and environmental studies along large parts of the southern and central Atlantic coastline.
Obviously, greater oil and gas exploration efforts in the country make sense from an economic standpoint. Reducing our dependence on foreign oil will require finding new sources of oil within our own borders. However, it’s important that any exploration efforts also take into consideration the substantial dangers to human life and safety during these exploration efforts. Both climate concerns and foreign oil dependence seem to be fashionable issues with the powers-that-be in Washington DC, but offshore and oil rig worker safety must also find a place at the table.
The maritime lawyers at Schechter McElwee Shaffer & Harris represent injured maritime workers, including offshore and oil rig workers, cruise liner crews, fishing vessel crews, barge and tugboat operators, and other maritime workers throughout the state of Texas and nationwide.
Maritime Pirates have boarded and attacked a merchant vessel in the Gulf of Aden. The pirates have taken control of the vessel and are holding its 24 crewmembers hostage, sailing the ship toward the Somali Coast. Nato’s counter piracy operation, Ocean Shield, noted that the ship was a mere 10 nautical miles from port when it was hijacked. The the roll-on, roll-off vessel is the M/V Iceberg 1. The 4 500-ton Iceberg, is a Panamanian-flagged vessel owned by Iceberg International Limited.
The last communication from the vessel was a mayday call from the captain saying pirates were boarding the vessel. The 24 crew came from Yemen, India, Ghana, Sudan, Pakistan and the Philippines.
Pirate attacks continue even though there are warships at the ready off the Somali coast. It is believed that this area of oceanis too vast to effectively patrol. Therefore, we believe that the most important safety measures are those what need to occur on board any vessels traveling through this area.
Vessel Captains in the region are advised to operate at heightened state of readiness, maintaining strict anti-piracy measures. Please be sure to report any suspicious activity to the appropriate regional body so that further attacks can be avoided and/or thwarted.
If you would like more information about Maritime Piracy or our firm’s representation of persons injured in the M/V MAERSK ALABAMA pirate attacks, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Maritime Advocacy Group Develops Post-Piracy Treatment Program
The Seaman’s Church Institute has published a study into the best practices for the treatment and rehabilitation of seamen, who have suffered through the stresses of a pirate attack. The SCI has used extensive mental health research, and inputs from shipping companies, crewing agencies, and maritime industry representatives to develop a series of practical measures that can be taken to help seamen adjust after their ordeal.
The document includes guidelines that must be followed at 5 different stages of a pirate attack.
When you First Receive News of a Pirate Attack
This section includes guidelines to ensure the safety of seamen and protect them from harm, help them deal with the situation, and keep communication lines open between the vessel and the owners of the vessel, owners of the cargo, government bodies and insurers.
When the Crew is Being Held
The document advises that the company begin to prepare for the crew’s release. This includes determining whether a seaman suffers from a pre-existing medical condition that might have worsened during captivity like heart problems, stroke, anxiety disorders etc. During this time, the company must also maintain a continuous flow of information to the seaman’s family.
When Release is Imminent
Families must be kept updated, with a timeframe when their loved one will be released. Medical and health resources must be ready, to ensure that seamen receive immediate medical care as soon as they disembark.
After the Release of the Crew
Medical assessments must be made, including a psychiatric assessment. After this, the crewmembers must be reunited with their families. Seamen and their families must be aware of the symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
When the Seaman Returns to Duty
This includes conducting a medical assessment. It’s highly recommended that the seaman be monitored during the first voyage after the pirate attack, because this when flashbacks and other symptoms of PTSD may be manifested.
As maritime lawyers who are currently representing the victims of the pirate attack on the Maersk Alabama last year, we know how traumatic these ordeals can be for the seamen. It’s good to see a systematic program that can help these workers get back on the road to physical and emotional recovery.