Friday, January 8, 2021

USCG, Navy Search for Fishing Vessel Crew

Members of the U.S. Coast Guard and Navy are trying to locate a life raft possibly used by crew members of a Taiwanese fishing vessel found adrift about 550 miles northeast of Midway Island.

Rescue Coordination Center Taipei first reported on New Year’s Eve night that it lost contact with the vessel Yong-Yu-Sing No. 18, the agency said.

When Joint Rescue Coordination Center Honolulu watchstanders tried a number of times to make contact with the vessel without any response, a they sent out a SafetyNet broadcast, reached out to area commercial vessels and deployed an Air Station Barbers Point HC-130 Hercules aircrew to look for the Yong-Yu-Sing No. 18.

Hercules found the vessel and tried to contact the crew but no one responded. Poor weather and low fueled limited Hercules’ ability to further investigate the vessel, but Hercules was able to capture images of the vessel. An analysis of the images showed ship damage and a missing life raft. As many as 10 crew members could have been on the raft, the USCG said.

USCG Cutter Polar Star Heads
to Dutch Harbor, Alaska

For the first time since 2013, the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star returned to Dutch Harbor, Alaska, last Tuesday.

The Seattle-based heavy icebreaker was there for a logistics stop as part of a months-long deployment in the Arctic to safeguard the country’s maritime sovereignty and security in the polar area, which include patrolling the Bering and Chukchi Seas and the Maritime Boundary Line between the U.S. and Russia.

The crew supported scientific research efforts such as deploying four ice buoys as part of a scientific partnership with the University of Washington and Office of Naval Research. The crew also sent multiple sensors to study Arctic waters for the National Science Foundation and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

While at Dutch Harbor, no one will be allowed on or off the vessel to minimize COVID-19 exposure, unless it’s for pre-approved logistical reasons.

From Dutch Harbor, Polar Star crew members will head north and “continue to hone the crew’s icebreaking proficiency, conduct scientific research, and patrol to detect and deter illegal fishing by foreign vessels in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone,” the agency said.

Maritime High School to Open in September

When it opens in September, the new Maritime High School will host its first ninth grade class. The new high school was born out of a partnership between the Highline Public Schools, the Northwest Maritime Center, the Port of Seattle, and the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition, along with various community and industry members to support students.

“Student learning will center on the environment, marine science, and maritime careers working on or near the water,” according to the port. “To do this, students will engage in integrated projects, learning across all high school content areas.”

There will be classroom time, distance learning and regular experience in the field and boat-based learning. Students will be able to do internships in their junior and senior years to garner workforce skills and experience.

By the time they graduate, students will have the skillset to start a Maritime career, ready to continue on to a 2 or 4-year college, the port said.

Sessions via Zoom are set for 7 p.m. on Jan. 11 and 6 p.m. on Jan. 21 for English speakers. For Spanish speakers, there’s a session at 6 p.m. on Jan. 11.

For more, visit

Port of Bellingham Officers Chosen for 2021

Ken Bell will be this year’s president of the Port of Bellingham’s Board of Commissioners, while fellow commissioners Michael Shepard and Bobby Briscoe will serve as vice president and secretary, respectively, for 2021, the port has announced.

Bell will also represent the port on the Whatcom Council of Governments and the Whatcom County Economic Development Investment Program Committee.

Briscoe will be the port representative for the Washington Public Ports Association, while Shepard will serve on Western Crossing (Shared Port and Western Washington University Development Entity).

The port commission will meet regularly at 4 p.m. in the Harbor Center Conference Room at 1801 Roeder Ave. in Bellingham. The next meeting is set for Jan. 19. In light of public safety amid COVID-19, the public will be able to participate in the meeting via Zoom video conferencing. Meetings will be streamed live and archived on the port’s YouTube Channel.

For more on accessing the meetings, reach out to Carey Jones at 360-715-7386 or by email at

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Charting a New Course

By Dave Abrams, Publisher

We made it! A new year – good riddance 2020! I know the storm is not over yet, but with the promise of the new vaccines, I think we can see the dark clouds lifting on the horizon. I recognize that I am the eternal optimist, but I have a good feeling 2021 is going to end up as a much improved version of its older brother.

I have a number of New Year rituals. Of course there is the standard post-holiday diet, cleaning off all the paper that had accumulated on my desk all year, and taking some time to reflect on what we accomplished. Then it’s on to the new plans. As the saying goes “if you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there”. Or for us mariners, that would be “any course will take you there”. No prudent mariner would leave port without a plan of where they were going and the route they were taking to get there. Each year is a new voyage for me – or three actually – one for my personal life, family life and business life. I set my goals for each of these three areas, and then chart my course on how to achieve those goals. I don’t always complete every voyage (especially when a global pandemic gets tossed in the way), but I always make progress, and get a chance to try again next year!

Whatever your new year rituals are, I wish all of you safe journeys and best wishes for a successful 2021!

You can reach Dave Abrams at

NOAA, USAID Ink MOU to Fight Illegal Fishing

NOAA and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) are teaming up to tackle illegal fishing, thanks to a new memorandum of understanding signed by both organizations to address the ongoing issue, which threatens food security, economies, fisheries and marine environments.

The MOU – which builds upon NOAA’s broader efforts with the U.S. State Department and U.S. Coast Guard – allows the agencies to further support one another’s programs, raise awareness of the innovative ways illegal fishing is being addressed with the help of public and private sector alliances and further incentivize compliance and consequences for disobeying fisheries rules.

“Together, our two agencies are well positioned to help nations combat IUU fishing practices which have emerged as a leading maritime security threat and are associated with human rights abuses and other forms of transnational crime,” said retired Navy Rear Adm. Timothy Gallaudet, Ph.D., Assistant Secretary of Commerce for oceans and atmosphere and deputy NOAA administrator. “I commend the staff of NOAA and USAID who worked to develop this agreement, and thank all those who work every day to stop IUU fishing through diplomacy, enforcement, and science.”

Passenger-less Cruise Ships to Stop
at Port of L.A.

In the coming weeks, passenger-less cruise ships will be making pit stops at the Port of Angeles for fuel, supplies and services, the port said Dec. 28.

Ships from Princess Cruises, Holland America and Norwegian Cruise Line are expected to come to L.A. and dock at the Los Angeles Cruise Terminal. Over two dozen cruise ships are expected at the port through early February, the port said.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has halted cruise operations since March, the visits for fuel and supplies are “part of the cruise lines’ operations to reestablish the ships in U.S. waters as a prerequisite to meet federal regulations in order to resume cruising in the future,” according to the port, adding that a date hasn’t been set for U.S. passenger sailings.

Meanwhile, the port continues to track the situation closely and work with emergency and public health agencies including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

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Port of Oakland Extends PLAs

Port of Oakland officials have added five more years to a project labor agreement that allows the hiring of East Bay workers for port construction projects.

The agreement - first negotiated in 2016 between the port and local labor groups - will further boost the number and pay of local hires and disadvantaged workers seeking trades careers. So far, local trades people have earned more than $19 million and 2,336 residents joined the Building and Construction Trades Council of Alameda County apprenticeship programs because of the PLA in place, the port said.

"Our agreement specifically addresses the need to increase participation of local, minority and disadvantaged workers," said Port of Oakland Director of Social Responsibility Amy Tharpe. "It also strengthens key partnerships within industry and labor so that we can prepare our workforce for a post-pandemic construction environment.”

USCG Cutter Active Returns to Port Angeles

After 46 days in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, crew members of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Active came back to its Port Angeles homeport Dec. 18.

The crew of the 210-foot medium endurance cutter travelled 10,056 nautical miles patrolling the Central American coast and teaming up with U.S. Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew members from the Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron (HITRON) to locate and prevent drug smuggling vessels.

Cutter Active also partnered with Pacific Area Tactical Law Enforcement Team, which added to the unit’s enforcement capabilities.

During the deployment, Active crew members interdicted a pair of suspected drug smuggling vessels, took control of about $159 million worth of cocaine and held 13 suspected narcotics traffickers.

“The Active crew gave everything to this deployment,” said Cmdr. James O’Mara, Active's commanding officer. “We proved our readiness by adapting to an unscheduled embarkation of a HITRON helo and seamlessly integrated that crew. We cancelled port calls, extended patrol legs, stretched our fuel state and food stores to the limit, all in support of this mission. The crew answered the call, and they executed with distinction. Our success traces back to the support from our families – and these results serve as a capstone for an entire year of operational results, which have confirmed, for me, that no crew compares to Active. Period.”