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Full text of "Commercial Fishing Industry Vessel Safety and Compensation Act of 1987 : hearing before the National Ocean Policy Study of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, United States Senate, One Hundredth Congress, first Session on S. 849 ... December 7, 1987"

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■y 4673/7 .'S.h^^. I00-4'=1l 

S. Hrg 100-492 















INDUSTRY VESSEIS >r;imi miiiir,.;^ 





ERNEST F. HOLUNGS. South Carolina, Chairnn. 


WENDELL H. FORD. Kentucky 

DONALD W, RIEGLE, Jr.. Michigan 

J. JAMES EXON, Nebraska 

ALBERT GORE JR., Tennessee 



JOHN F. KERRY. Massachusetts 

JOHN B- BREAUX. Louisiana 

BROCK ADAMS, Washington 

Ralph B. Everett. ciuefCouiaeitmdSaffDirecair 

W. ALLEN UOORE. MimnlyClutfqfSuff 


ROBERT W. KASTEN, JR.. Wisconsi 
PAUL S. TRIBLE. JR.. Virginia 
PETE WILSON, California 

National Ocean Poi icy Study 
ERNEST F. HOLLINGS, South Carolina. Chairman 
JOHN F.KERRY. Massachusetts, yteCluiirman 




JOHN B. BREAUX. Uuisiana PAUL S. TRIBLE, JR., Virginia 

BROCK ADAMS. Wellington PETE WILSON. California 


Ex Officio MEMBERS 
JOHN C. STENNIS. Mississippi MARK 0, HATRELD, Oregon 

SAM NUNN, Georgia JOHN W. WARNER. Virginia 


QUENTTN N. BURDICK. North Dakota JOHN H. CHAFEE. Rho<le Island 


CLAIBORNE PELL, Rhode Island JESSE HELMS, North Carolina 


JOHN a GLENT-I. JR.. Ohio WILLIAM V. ROTH. JR.. Delaware 


EDWARD M. KENNEDY. Massachusens LOWELL P- WEICKER. JR.. ConnecUcui 








Defrances. Janice. 

Nail. Joseph, Member. NTSB: accompanied by William Go&sard. Bureau of 
Safety (rograms; Rachael Ifaltennan, Chief. Office of Government and Public 


Prepared statement 

McCauley. James, president. [*oint Judith Fishermen's Cooperative Assn.. !nc 

Prepared statement 

Ninon, Dr. Dennis, professor of marine af&irs 

Swiililt. Greg, presioeni, U.S. Marine Safely Assn 

Prepared statement 






U.S. Senate. 
National Ocean Policy Study, 
Committee on Commerce, Sqence. and Transportation. 

Wakefield RI. 
The committee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:10 a.m., the 
Washington County Government Center, Senator John H. 

Staff members assigned to this hearing: Mike Nussman. professional 
staff member; and Bob Eisenbud, minority professional staff member. 


Senator Chafee I want to welcome everybody here. This is an official 
field hearing of the United States Senate Committee on Commerce. 
Science, and Transportation. 1 would like Co thank Senator Ernest 
Hollings who is Chainnan of the Commerce Committee and Senator 
John Danforth from Missouri, the ranking member of the Committee, 
for their active interest in the issue of fishing vessel safety and compen- 
sation, and for scheduling this hearing. 

Before I begin. 1 would also like to express my appreciation to the 
witnesses who have agreed to testify here today. I particularly want to 
note that Mrs. Peggy Barry, who made great effort to attend and was 
planning to come by train, apparently there's been a train accident and 
the train was cancelled. So her testimony will be accepted, and she will 
not be here today. She has been untiring in her efforts to focus nadonal 
attention on this important issue, and we'll hear from Mr. Joe Nail, one 
of the five members of the National Transportation Safely Board. 

Today we will hear testimony on the need to establish minimum 
safety standards for fishing vessels. We'll also look at the current system 
for compensating injured seamen, with the goal of replacing it with one 
that is efficient and equitable for both crew members and fishing vessel 

Each of the witnesses has received a copy of the legislation which I, 
together with Senators Kerry of Massachusetts and Senator Adams of 
Washington, introduced in the Senate last March. Senator Kennedy 
from Massachusetts has also recenUy joined us as a cosponsor. 


This legislation seeks to address the dual problems of escalating 
insurance rates in the commercial fishing industry and the safely aboard 
fishing vessels. These problems are of particular concern to Rhode 
Island fishennen and their families, and to the thousands of Americans 
who earn their living in the Fishing industry. 

Now. the need for minimum safety standards on fishing vessels is 
never more urgently fell than in the aftermath of a tragedy. Some of 
you here today personally knew the captain and crew of the Newport 
lobster boat Reliance which was recently lost off the coast of 
Nantucket. Anyone can read the newspaper accounts of how the wife of 
the boat's skipper, Mrs. Christopher Dennis, gave birth to a son a few 
days after the boat was reported missing, and anybody who reads or 
knows of it certainly has a deep feeling of remorse. My heart goes out 
to the family and friends of the crew. 

Yet it's not enough to simply accept this loss as an inherent risk in a 
dangerous occupation. We've got to do all we can to ensure that every 
precaution is taken to minimize the risk and reduce the number of 
needless vessel sinkings and the resultant loss in life. 

In the case of the Reliance it is possible, from some reports probable, 
that the owner/captain and the crew did all that was humanly possible 
to prevent such a disaster. Until a final report and investigation are 
concluded, it would be premature to venture a guess. Yet I'm convinc- 
ed that in a large number of fishing vessel accidents, loss of life is very 
preventable if some basic minimum safety standards are adhered to. 

We're going to hear testimony today from a woman who lost a loved 
one in a fishing accident that could have and should have been 
prevented. We'll also hear testimony from the National Transportation 
Safety Board Representative Mr. Nail, and the Board has recently 
issued a report recommending the adoption of tough minimum safety 
standards for fishing vessels. 

Now, the argument for adoption of these standards is compelling: 
Commercial fishing is the most dangerous occupation in the United 
States. According to U. S. Coast Guard figures, an average of 250 fish- 
ing boats sink each year. That is an appalling statistic. That's— that's 
one every day and a half, two every three days, of fishing boats that are 
lost each year. The death rate for fishermen is seven times the national 
average for all industry groups and twice that as mining which is the 
next most hazardous occupation. 

Because fishing is so inherently dangerous, it comes as no surprise 
that our commercial Fishing industry has been caught up in the general 
insurance liability crisis. 

The cost of protection and indemnity insurance for the fishing in- 
dustry has soared in recent years, and often it is not available at any 
price. As insurance becomes unaffordable. many Fishing vessel owners 
are either going without insurance or are going out of business. 

The causes of the marine insurance crisis are complex and cannot be 
soley attributed to exorbitant Jury awards. Lax safety standards, 
inadequate care of the injured or disabled seamen, poor vessel design 

.d fishery management regulations have all aggravated the problem. 


S. 849 is the first step toward a comprehensive solution to these 
problems, (t seeks to contain or even roll back soaring insurance 
premiums by replacing the current inefficient system of litigation for 
temporary injuries with a system similar to worker's compensation, and 
by requiring enhanced safety on fishing boats. 

I think we all know the commercial fishing industry faces a number 
of challenges today such as decHning stocks and increased foreign com- 
petition. The additional problem of escalating insurance rates poses a 
serious threat to the industry's future. I trust well hear insightftil tes- 
timony today on how we can take a positive step toward making fishing 
a safer and more prosperous occupation. 

(The bill follows:) 


To eiubliah guideline* for tiniel; conipenwtian for leroponr; injuiy incnrred by 
MUMn on fitlmiK indiuby twmIi tai to reqiBTe additiiwal nietj ngul^ 
tioni tor fiihing induatr; veiieli. 

ICucH 28 flegidative dxj, Hasoh 24), 1987 
)b. COAWMK (tm hinuelf ind Ur. Ebiby) introduoed the following bill; wbioh 
wu reftd twio« ind referred to tbe Committee on Commeroe, Seienoe, ud 


To establish guidelines for timely conqiensfttion ior temporary 
injury incurred by seamen on fishing industry resselB and to 
require addidonal sale^ regulations for fishing industry ves- 

1 Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Repnsenta- 

2 tivee of the United States of America in Congress asseinbled, 


4 This Act may be cit«d u the "Commercial Ashing In- 

5 dustry Yessel Safety and Compensation Act of 1987". 

uigitized by 






4 nUURT. 

5 The Act of March 4, 1915 (cha^rter 153; 38 SlaL 1 164) 

6 ia amended bj adding at Uu end Uu following: 

7 "Sbc. 21. (a) In tfaia section— 

8 "(1) 'fishing vessel', 'fish processing vessel', and 

9 'fish tender vessel' have the same meanings given 

10 those tenns in section 2101 of title 46, United States 

11 Code. 

12 "(2) an illness, disabili^, or injury shall be coosid- 

13 ered tempimuy if, after cure, the seaman — 

14 "(A) can return to the seaman's previous (or 

15 equivalent) employment; 

16 "(B) does not require further medical care 

17 with respect to the illness, disabili^, or injury; 

18 "((7) does not have a substantial loss of 

19 sight, voice, or hearing; and 

20 "(D) has not lost an appendage or suffered 

21 permuient disfigurement. 

22 "(b) A civil action Oncluding an action for contribution 

23 or indemnification) may not be brought under any law of the 

24 United States against the employer of a seaman, a vessel 

25 owner, or a vessel for loss suffered as the result of a tempo- 



1 raiy illness, disabili^, or injury suffered by a seaman during 

2 the course of the seaman's employment to a fishing, fish 

3 processing, or fish tender Teasel if the employer or Tessel 

4 owner makes payment for, or otherwise provides — 

5 "(1) cure for the ill, disabled, or injured seaman; 

6 and 

7 "(2) maintenance during the period of illness, dis- 

8 ability or injury in an amount equal to — 

9 "(A) for each day that vessel is on a voyage, 
the greater ai — 

"(i) 80 percent of the wage or share the 
.3 seaman would have received for that day if 

.8 the seaman had been employed on the vessel 

14 for that voyage; or 

S "<u) $30; and 

"(B) for each day that vessel is not on a 
^yB{CB> $30. 
"(c) The Secretary of Transportation ahaU annually 
9 review the dollar figure in subparagraphs (AMii) and (R) of 

20 subsection (bK2). The Secretary may periodically increase or 

21 decrease that figure, but not by more than the percentage 

22 increase or decrease in the Consumer Price Index for the 

23 period considered. 

24 "(d) Subsection (b) shall not Bfply if — 



1 "(1) the temporary illneBS, disability, or injury 

2 was caused by the groBs negligenoe or willful nuBCon- 
S duet of the owner or employer, as the case may be; 

4 "(2) the temporaiy illneBS, disability, or injury 

5 was primarily caused by a TioUtion of chapter 45 of 

6 title 46, United States Code, that was within the 

7 knowledge of the owner or employer, as the case may 

8 be; or 

9 "(S) payment or provision of maintenance and 

10 cure is not made in the manner described in subsection 

11 (b).". 


13 The first section of the Act entitled "An Act to provide 

14 a unifonn three-yesr statute of limitBlions in actions to reoov- 

15 cr damsf^g for personal iiqury or death, arising out of a mar> 

16 itime tort, and for other purposes" (46 App. II.S.C. ^65t^ is 

17 amended by striking "That," and inserting "That (a)" and by 

18 adding at the end the following: 

19 "(b) A civil action against the employer of a seaman or 

20 the ovraer oi a fishing, fishing processing, or fish tender 

21 vessel for recovery of damages for iUness, injury, disabili^, 

22 or death suffered during the course of the seaman's employ- 

23 ment to a fishing, fish processing, or fish tender vessel may 

24 not be maintained unless started within 2 years from the date 

25 the cause of action accrued.". 






4 HENTa 

5 (a) Cfaq)ter 45 of title 46, United States Code, is 

6 amended to read as foDows: 




"4001. Appliouioi]. 

"4603. Sttfety lUndv^. 

"4603. EqiunleDc;. 

"4604. Prohilnted acU. 

"4A0fi. Tcnniiutioii of uniifa opentioiii. 

"4606. Eiemptiaiu. 

"4607. Ponsltiw. 

"4606. Conmnmial fUung Indoibj VbimI AdTinry CaamiOee, 

9 ''S4601.AppUcatlon 

10 "(a) This chapter appiiea to a fishing, fish processuig, 

11 and fish tender vessel. 

12 "(b) This chapter does not apply to the carriage of bulk 

13 dangerous cargoes regulated under chapter 37 of this title. 

14 "9 4602. S^etf standards 

15 "(a) A fishing, fish processing, and fish tender vessel 

16 must — 

17 "(1) if propelled b; machinery, be provided with 

18 fire extinguishers, capable of promptly and effectively 

19 extinguishing a combuBtible or flanunable liquid fuel. 


1 that shall be kept in a condition ior immediate and ef- 

2 fective use snd so placed as to be readily accessible; 

3 "(3) carry at least one readily accessible life pre- 

4 server or other lifesaving device for each individual on 
6 board; 

6 "(3) have the carburetors of each engine on board 

7 the vessel (except an outboard engine) using gasoline 

8 as a fuel, equipped with an efficient flame arrestor, 

9 backfire trap, or other similar device; 

10 "(4) if using a voladle liquid as fuel, be provided 

11 with the means for properly and ef&ciently ventilating 

12 enclosed spaces, including engine and fuel tank com- 

13 partments, so as to remove any explosive or flammable 

14 gases; and 

15 "(5) be provided vrith visual distress signals. 

16 "(b) In addition to the requirements of subsection (a) of 

17 this secdon, the Secretary shall prescribe regulations for a 

18 documented fishing, fish processing, or fish tender vessel op- 

19 erating beyond the Boundaiy line, for the installation, main- 

20 tenance, and use of — 

21 "(1) at least one readily accessible emergency po- 

22 sition indicating beacon, or similar electronic position 

23 indicating device; 

24 "(2) lifeboats or liferafts suffident to accommodate 
26 all individuals on board; 



1 "(3) at least one readily accessible exposure Buit 

2 for each individual on board a vessel operating on the 

3 waters described in section 3102 of this tide; 

4 "(4) radio communioations equipment sufficient h> 

5 effectively coaunuaicate with land-based search and 

6 rescue facihties; and 

7 "(6) other equipment required to minimize the risk 

8 of ii^ury to crew during vessel operations, if the Secre- 

9 tary determines that a risk of serious injury exists that 

10 can be eliminated or mitigated by that equipment. 

11 "(c) For an uninspected fish processing vessel entered 

12 into service after December 31, 1987, and having more than 

13 sixteen individuals on board primarily employed in the prepa- 

14 ration of fish or fish products, the Secretary shall prescribe 

15 additional reguUtions for — 

16 "(1) navigation equipment, including radars, fatbo- 

17 meters, compasses, radar reflectors, lights, sound-pro- 

18 ducing devices, nautical charts, and anchors; 

19 "(2) life saving equipment, including life preserv- 

20 ers, eiqiosure suits, lifeboats or liferafts, emergency po- 

21 sition indicating radio beacons, signaling devices, bilge 

22 pumps, bilge alarms, life rtuls and grab rails, and medi- 

23 cine chests; 


1 "(3) fire protection and firefightong equipment, in- 

2 eluding fire alarms, portable and semiportable fire ez- 

3 tinguishing equipment, and flame arreators; 

4 "(4) the use and installation of insulation material; 

5 "(5) storage methods for flammable or oombusdhle 

6 material; and 

7 "(6) fuel, ventilation, and electrical systems. 

8 "(dMD In addition to the other requirements of this sec- 

9 tion, the Secretary shall prescribe regulatiotu for the operat- 

10 ing stalnli^ of a documented Sshing, fish processing, or fish 

11 tender vessel — 

12 "(A) the keel for which was laid after Decern- 

13 ber 31, 1988; or 

14 "(B) whose physical cfaaracteristios are substan- 

15 tially altered after December 31, 1988, in a maimer af- 

16 footing the vessel's operating stabili^. 

17 "(2) The Secretary may accept, as evidence of compli- 

18 ance by a vessel with this subsection, a certification of com- 

19 pliance issued by the person providing insurance for the 

20 vessel. 

21 "(e) In prescribing regulations under this section, the 

22 Secretary— 

23 "(1) shall consider the Bpecialized nature and eco- 

24 nomics of the type of vessel operations and the charac- 

25 ter, design, and construction of the type of vessel; 


1 "(2) shall consult with representatives of the pri- 

2 Tate sector having experience in the operation of ves- 

3 sels to which this chapter implies to ensure the pr&cti- 

4 cabOity of these regfulatiom; and 

5 "(3) may not require the alteration of a vessel or 

6 associated equipment or of the construction of a vessel 

7 or manufacture of a particular item of equipment that 

8 was begun before the effective date of the regulation. 

9 "8 4503. EquivBlenc7 

10 "An uninspected fish processing vessel entered into 

11 service after December 31, 1987, and having more than six- 

12 teen individuals on board primarily employed in the prepara- 

13 tion of Gsh or fish products — 

14 "(1) is deemed to comply with the requirements of 
16 this chapter if it has an une^ired certificate of inspec- 

16 tion issued by a foreign coimtry tliat is a party to an 

17 International Convention for Safety of Life at Sea to 

18 which the United States Clovenmient ig a part^', and 

19 "(2) may not be required by the Secretary to alter 

20 or replace the equipment or structural requirements re- 

21 quired under this chapter. 

22 "8 4604. Prohibited acts 

23 "A person may not operate a vessel in violation of this 

24 chapter or a regulation prescribed under this chapter. 




1 "S 4506. Termination of unsafe operations 

2 "If an official charged with the enforcement of this 

3 chapter observes a fishing, fish processing, or fish tender 

4 vessel being operated in an unsafe condition and, in the judg- 

5 ment of that official, the operation creates an especially haz- 

6 ardous condition, the official may direct Uie operator of the 

7 vessel to take immediate and reasonable steps necessary for 

8 the safety of individuals on board the vessel, including direct- 

9 ing the operator to return to a mooring and to remain there 

10 until the situation creating the hazard is corrected or ended. 

11 "9 4606. Exemptions 

12 "(a) The Secretary may exempt a vessel from any part 

13 of this chapter when, tmder regulations (including regulations 

14 on special operating conditions) prescribed by the Secretary, 

15 the Secretary finds that — 

16 (1) good cause exists for granting an exemption; 

17 and 

18 "(2) the safety of the vessel and those on hoard 

19 will not be adversely affected. 

20 "(b) A fishing, fisb processing, or fish tender vessel is 

21 exempt from the provisions of section 4502(bK2) if it — 

22 "(1) is less than 36 feet in length; and 

23 "(2) is not operating on the high seas. 

24 "§4607. Penalties 

26 "(a) If a vessel to which this chapter applies is operated 

26 in violation of this chapter or a regulation prescribed under 



1 this chapter, the owner, charterer, irmnaging operator, agent, 

2 master, and indiTidiutl in charge are each liable to the United 

3 States GoTemment for a civil penalty of not more than 

4 $5,000. The vessel also is liable in rem for the penalty. 

5 "(b) A person willfully violating this chapter or a regu- 

6 lation prescribed under this chapter shall be fined not more 

7 than $S,000, imprisoned for not more than one year, or both. 

8 "§4508. Commercial Fishing Indiuby Vessel Advisory 

9 Committee 

10 "(a.) The Secretary shall establish a Commercial Fishing 

1 1 Industry Vessel Advisory Committee. The Committee — 

12 "(1) may advise, consult with, report to, and 

13 make recommendations to the Secretary on matters re- 

14 ladng to the ssfe operB.tion of fishing, fish processing, 

15 and fish tender vessels, mcluding navigation safety, 

16 safety equipment and procedures, marine insurance, 

17 vessel design, construction, maintenance and operation, 

18 and personnel qualifications and training; 

19 "(2) may review proposed regulations under this 
30 chapter; 

21 "(3) may nuke available to Congress any infor- 

22 mation, advice, and recommendations that the Commit- 

23 tee is authorized to give to the Secretary; 

24 "(4) shall meet at the call of the Secretary, but 

25 not less than once during each calendar year. 


1 "(bKl) The Oonunittee shall consist of seventeen mem- 

2 bers with particular expertiBe, knowledge, and experience re- 

3 garding the commercial fishing industry as follows: 

4 "(A) ten members from the commennal fishing in- 

5 dustry who— 

6 "(0 reflect a regional and representational 

7 balance; and 

8 "(ii) have experience in the operation of ves- 

9 sels to which this chapter applies or as a crew 

10 member or processing line worker on a fish proo- 

11 essiog vessel; 

12 "(B) three members from the general pubBc, in- 

13 eluding, v^enever possible, an independent expert or 

14 consultant in maritime safety and a member of a na- 

15 tional organization composed of fishing, fish processing, 

16 or fish tender vessel and marine insurance interests; 

17 "(G) one member from each of the following — 

18 "(i) naval architects or marine surveyors; 

19 "(ii) manufacturers of fishing, fish processing, 

20 or fish tender vessel equipment; 

21 "(iii) education or training professionals relat- 

22 ed to fishing, fish processing, or fish tender vessel 

23 safety or personnel quaUfications; and 

24 "(iv) underwriters engaged in msurmg fish- 

25 ing, fish processing, or fish tender vessels. 




1 "(2) At least once a yeu, the Secretary shall publish a 

2 notioe in the Federal fiegister and in newspapers of general 
S circulation in coastal areas soliciting nominations for mem- 

4 bership on the Conunittee, and, after timely notice is pub- 

5 lished, appoint the members of the Committee. A member 

6 may be appointed to any number of terms. 

7 "(SMA) The term of a member is three years. 

8 "(B) If a vacancy occurs in the membership (rf the Com- 

9 mittee, the Secretary ahaU appoint a member to fill the re- 

10 mainder of the vacated term. 

11 "(4) The Committee shall elect one of its members as 

12 the Chairman and one of its members as the Vice Churman. 

13 The Vice Chainnao shall act as Chairman in the absence or 

14 incapacity of, or in the event of a vacuicy in the office of, the 

15 Chairman. 

16 "(5) The Secretary shall, and any other interested 

17 agency may, designate a representative to participate as an 

18 observer with the Committee. These representatives shall, as 

19 appropriate, report to and advise the Committee on matters 

20 relating to fishing, fish processmg, or fish tender vessels 

21 under tiie jurisdiction of their respective agencies. The Secre- 

22 tary's designated representative shall act as executive secre- 

23 tary for the Committee and perform the duties set forth in 

24 section 10(o) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act {5 App. 

25 U.S.O.). 



1 "(cKD The Secretary shall, whenever practicable, con- 

2 Bult with the Committee before taking any significant action 

3 relating to the safe operation of fishing, fish processing, or 

4 fish tender veBaels. 

5 "(2) The Secretary shall consider the information, 

6 advice, and recommendations of the Committee in consulting 

7 with other agencies and the public or in formulating policy 

8 regarding the safe operation of fishing, fiah processing, or fish 

9 tender vessels. 

10 "(d)(1) Except an officer or employee of the United 

11 States or a member of the Armed Forces, a member of the 

12 Conmiittee, when attending meetings of the Committee or 

13 when otherwise engaged in the business of the Committee, is 

14 entitled to receive — 

15 "(A) compensation at a rate fixed by the Secre- 

16 tary, not exceeding the daily equivalent of the current 

17 rate of basic pay in effect for GS-18 of the General 

18 Schedule under section 5332 of title 5 including travel 

19 time; and 

20 "(B) travel or transportation expenses under sec- 

21 tion 5703 of title 5. 

22 "(2) Fa3nnents under this section do not render a 
28 member of the Committoe an officer or employee of the 

24 United States or a member of the Armed Forces for any 

25 purpose. 




1 "(3) A member of the Committee who is an officer or 

2 employee of the United States or a member of tbe Armed 

3 Forces m&y not receive additional pay on accomit of the 

4 member's service on the Committee. 

5 "(4) The provisions of this section relating to an officer 

6 or employee of the United States or a member of the Armed 

7 Forces do not apply to a member of a reserve component of 

8 the Annsd Forces unless that member is in an active status. 

9 "(eKl) The Federal Advisory Committee Act {5 U.8.C. 
to App.) applies to the Committee, except that the Committee 

11 terminates on September 30, 1992. 

12 "(2) Two years prior to the termination date in this sec- 
IS tioQ, tbe Committee shall submit to Congress its recommen- 

14 dation whether the Committee should be renewed and contin- 

15 ued beyond the termination date.". 

16 (b) Of the members first appointed to the Commercial 

17 Fishing Industry Advisory Committee under section 4508 of 

18 title 46, United States Code— 

19 (1) one-third of the members shall serve a term of 

20 one year and one-third of the members shall serve a 

21 term of two years, to be detennined by lot at the first 

22 meeting of the Conunittee; and 

23 (2) terms may be adjusted to coincide with the 

24 Covemment's fiscal year. 




1 (c) SubBection (e) of section 4102 of title 46, United 

2 States Code, is repealed. 


4 Chapter 61 of title 46, United States Code, is amended 

5 by adding at tbe end the following new section: 

6 "§ 6104. Commercial Ashing industry vessel casualty sta- 

7 tistlcs 

8 "(a) The Secretary shall compile statistics concerning 

9 marine casualties from data compiled from insurers of fishing, 

10 fish processing, fish tender vessels. 

11 "(b) A person underwriting primaiy insurance for fisb- 

12 ing, fish processing or fish tender vessels shall submit periodi- 
IS cally to the Secretary data concerning marine casualties that 

14 is required by regulations prescribed by the Secretary. 

15 "(c) After consulting with the uisurance industry, tbe 

16 Secretary shall prescribe regulations under this section to 

17 gather a statistical base for analyzing vessel risks.". 

16 (b) The analysis for chapter 61 of title 46, United States 

19 Code, is amended by adding at the end tbe following: 
"6101. CommeicU] fishing induatr; Teas«l ouiult; lUtiaticB.". 

20 (c) Section 6103 of title 46, United States Code, is 

21 amended as follows: 

22 (1) before "An" insert "(a)"; and 

23 (2) add the following new subsection: 



1 "(b) A person violating section 6104 of Uub title or a 

2 regulation prescnbed under Uiat section is liable to the Oov- 
S enunent for a civil penalty of not more than $5,000.". 


Senator Chafee. So the first witness — we have a total of five 
witnesses today. I understand now with Mrs. Barry — I understand Mr. 
Peter Sullivan won't be here ; is that correct? Okay. 

So we have five witnesses and we'll have a panel of the first two. Mr. 
Dennis Nixon, Professor of Geography and Marine Affairs. Dennis 
Nixon, we'll hear from you and Mr. Greg Swidik. So why don't you 
both come on up to the table. Is this better or worse? Okay. Why don't 
we start with Professor Nixon. Go to it. Now, if anybody has any tes- 
timony, we'll put it in the record and your full testimony will be put in 
the record but try to summarize it in five minutes apiece if you can. 
We won't keep you exactly to five but try to stay there. Okay. Dr. 
Nixon, go to it. 


Dr. Nixon. Thank you very much. Senator. Senator, this is the sixth 
time over the past three years I've had the opportunity to speak before 
committees of the Senate and the House. I am deeply committed to the 
twin goals thai you mentioned in your introductory statement of help- 
ing to provide an environment in which fishing can be conducted more 
safety and also to create a system which more fairly responds to the 
needs of the fisherman who has been injured and wants to return to his 

Congress' most recent involvement with this issue began in 1984 with 
a hearing in Boston conducted by Representative, now Senator Breaux 
and Representative Studds. In 1985 your committee held hearings in 
March and October during which I was asked to develop a methodol- 
ogy to recommend some alternative method to compensate injured 
fishermen. I completed that study in March of 1986. and later that year 
an earlier version of this bill was offered for a vote in the House of 
Representatives. The day it was defeated in 1986 was the most dis- 
illusioning day of my life. 1 had never seen the work of a lobbying 
group that effective. 

The American Trial Lawyers Association sent 40 men to the Hill with 
PAC contributions to block the passage of that bill, and they were suc- 
cessful. I'm not sure wiUiout election reform whether or not we can 
ever get this bill through with opposition like thai, but 1 cenainly hope 
we have the courage within the House and Senate to see this bill passed 
despite the objection of the ALTA. In April of this year 1 began work- 
ing with House and Senate staff once again to refine the bill, to make 



sure some of the objections were handled, and we ended up with the 
drafts that are now present in the House and Senate. 

[ am excited and thrilled that we are close today towards passage of 
the bill, both in the House and Senate. Reform in both safety and 
liability is long overdue. Equipment requirements that are mentioned 
by the NTSB in their report are already met and exceeded by groups 
like The Point Club. Jim McCauley, president of The Point Club, will 
testify that they have developed written requirements that go far 
beyond what are discussed in this legislation. 

At page 53 of the NTSB study, the author reports that if the rest of 
the country were adopting regulations tike The Point Club has adopted 
for itself, we wouldn't have a fishing vessel safety problem. 

However, as Mrs. Barry will point out in her testimony, not all have 
gotten [he safety message, and with the guidance of the advisory com- 
mittee which you added to this bill, 1 think we will be able to develop 
regulations to provide a minimum floor of safety standards for the en- 
tire fishing industry around the nation. 

On the liability compensation side which f have been most heavily in- 
volved, a series of attempts to change the method for compensating in- 
jured fishermen have been discussed since 1957. The landmark study in 
1957 stated that the method for compensating injured fishermen "dis- 
regards completely the financial, economic and operational characteris- 
tics of the industry. Furthermore, the system in itself is unjust because 
it is wastefijl and slow and it fosters misunderstanding and bitterness 
between employer and employees. Moreover, it encourages the use of 
dishonest methods by both parties because Court awards are often not 
in proportion to the employee's injury or need." Ttiat effort did not 
result in legislation. On later study in the mid-1970s did result in legisla- 
tion which never got out of committee. 

The insurance crisis that we have seen across the board in liability in- 
surance has hit the fishing industry most hard. This particular proposal 
will in fact address those rates and the problem that the U. S. fishing in- 
dustry is struggHng against, world-wide competitiveness. It will provide 
a much fairer environment for the industry to compete with other na- 
tions. It will provide a much greater chance for an individual fi^erman 
to receive a fair recovery for his injuries. 

The method in this bill is supported by research I've been conducting 
for the past five years. I have flown to every region in the counU7 with 
substantial fishing fleets. I've spoken to fishermen vessel owners, in- 
surance companies. All have said this is the direction they want to go. 
(t is supported by organized fishing groups around the nation. In tes- 
timony that has been taken by your committee, by the House in 1985. 
by the House in 1986. in the report that I did for the Congress in 1986. 
every one of these volumes says the fishing industry supports this effort 
that you are taking. The only organized opposition today is the 
American Trial Lawyers Association, and I certainly hope that this time 
we have the strength to overcome their opposition and pass a bill which 
will be good for the fishing industry. I'm on record so many limes that 
1 think [ will conclude my statement at this point and answer any ques- 
tions you might have. 


Senator Chafee Okay. I'm going to wait until we hear from Mr. 
Swiilik, and then we'll ask you some questions. 
Okay. Mr. Switlik. glad you're here. Go to it. 


Mr. Switlik. Thank you. I am a manufacturer of life rafts and other 
related safety equipment, but I'm here as the president of the United 
States Marine Safety Association. I have submitted written testimony so 
I'll make a few brief comments and then if you have some questions. 
The United States Marine Safety Association is composed of manufac- 
turers of marine safety equipment, safety training professionals, service 
people and retail/wholesale distributors of safety equipment 

We are concerned when we hear comments that come out in the past 
testimony before the Congress that safety equipment cannot be placed 
on certain vessels because of the si/e of the vessels. We are here to let 
you know that our industry can be responsive to whatever the safety 
needs are of the fishing industry. We feel it's unfortunate that safety 
equipment is referred to as being boat equipment. We are a life-savings 
specialist. We don't save boats; we save people's lives when all else is 
lost We are also not compensation experts, so I think I'll refrain from 
commenting on the compensation. 

I have done some checking up since this past week on some of the 
costs, some of the costs of safety equipment, so if you have any ques- 
tions about the affordability and reasonableness of the equipment I'd 
be glad to answer those. 

I've also brought along a few samples here. I do have a survival suit 
[ have an EPIRB and I have what we have referred to in the industry 
as a flotation platform. It is not a life raft, but it is similar to a Point ap- 
paratus, although being inflatable, survivors can get up and out of the 
water. We feel that devices like this are important to the smaller vessel 
and the inshore fisherman. If nothing else, if the requirements are not 
mandated for the boat, we would hope that Congress would see in this 
legislation that there is a problem with nonstandardized safety and sur- 
vival equipment, and we hope that whatever impact Congress can have 
on the U. S. Coast Guard would ask the Coast Guard to regulate our 
industry when it comes to smaller vessels. As it is now, the Coast 
Guard only regulates equipment that goes on large vessels and 

Senator Chafee What's that size, 200 feet is it? 

Mr. SwrrLiK. Yes. approximately 200 feet. 

Senator Chakee It's based on tonnage, isn't it? 

Mr. SwrruK. Yes. 

Senator Chafee What's the tonnage? 

Mr. SwrrtiK. 300 tons. 

Senator Chafee You mean below 300 tons they're not regulated? 



Mr. SwiTLiK. There are some regulations, but ihey are minimum 
regulations. There are no regulations for life rafts for smaller vessels or 
flotation platforms of smaller vessels. We feel there need to be regula- 
tions. The standard life raft that goes on a passenger liner or tanker or 
offshore oil rig is probably inappropriate to most vessels operating 
within 200 miles of shore or under 45 feet in length. 

[The statement follows:) 



1^e United States Marine Safety Association (USHSA) Is an 
association composed of manufacturers service facilities, 
and retail/wholesale suppliers of marine lifesaving equip- 
ment, marine safety professionals. The purpose of USMSA is 
to promote the development and implementation of the highest 
possible U.S. performance, manufacturing, maintenance service 
and training standards for a1] lifesaving, survival and emer- 
gency rescue equipment required and/or used on a11 U.S. vessels. 

U5NSA supports S-849. Specifically USMSA supports Title I of 
S-849 relating to the cocnpensat on of fishermen temporarily 
injured on fishing industry vesse s. As manufactures we re- 
cognize the benefits of, and have long worked with xorkman s 
compensation programs. Those work ng In the fishing ndustry 
deserve a similar compensation program. Title 1 of S-849 es- 
tablishes for fisherman a compensation program for temporary 
Injury similar to that currently provided to shore based workers. 
He applaud the committee efforts, and urge inclusion of these 
provisions In a ccmprcmlse bill. 

USHA fully supports the additional equipment requirements set 
forth in S-849. Items such as visual distress signals, 

EPRIBSs, llferafts, immersion suits, and comnuni cations eouip- 
ment should be standard required equipment on all U.S. fishing 
vessels. While we realize that many U.S. fishing vessels are 
so equipped, we also know, as the recent editorial in the Na- 
tional Fisherman (July 1987) reveals, that many are not equTpped 
with this basic equipment. There Is, today, no requirement that 
this equipment be carried; therefore, no minimum manufacturing 
or testing standards are applicable to any equipment voluntarily 
carried aboard these vessles, nor is there any requ rement for 
the proper Installations, and most important the regu ar main- 
tenance of this equipment. As manufacturers we are concerned 
that while the owner of a fishing vessel may purchase what he 
believes Is a quality lifesaving product, unless that product 
undergoes the vigorous design and testing program conducted by 
the U.S. Coast Guard he may in fact be purchasing an inferior 
product. Ma ntenance, particularly as it effects the performance 
of 'Inflatable life rafts is a great concern of both rranufacturers 
and safety professionals. While many fishing vesse s carry n- 
flatable llferafts, there Is, at present, no requirement that 
these rafts be serviced annually, as recommended by the manu- 
facturers, or that they be serviced by a facility authorized, 
trained and supp led with spare parts by the manufacturer. If 
a Ifferaft is serviced by an unauthorized service facility the 
manufacturer loses control over the quality of his product and 
can no longer be confident that it will perform as designed. 

Lifesaving equipment manufacturers want to provide products 
that - with proper installation, servicing and training - 
will save lives, but without a requirement that this equipment 
be properly serviced It Is difficult to insurethat their equip- 
ment will perform as advertised. 


It Is suggested that there is no need for federal legislation 
to reouire this additional lifesaving equipment, that the in- 
dustry can be persuaded to voluntarily provide, properly in- 
stall and maintain this equipment. Ue suggest that there is 
little ev dence that this s the case and furthermore we be- 
lieve there Is a basic federal responsibility to insure that this 
equipment Is provided. It is suggested 1n the National Fisher- 
man editorial that a crewman can provide his own iramersion suit, 
or "switch to another boat". What about a quality liferaft 
that is properly installed and serviced, or an EPIRB with an up 
to date battery? Should a creMman provide these a so? We think 
not. Crewman fisherman should not have to worry about these 
Items any more than a passenger on a liner or ferry should worry 
about whether there are adequate life Jackets. Those who go to 
sea to fish should only worry about whether they can do an al- 
ready difficult job - catching fish. 

USHSA, also would support legislation authorizing the Secretary 
(1e. the U.S. Coast Guard) to develop additional lifesaving and 
Injury preventing regulations as the need is demonstrated and/ 
or techno ogy advances. This provision provides necessary 
flexibility and Is directed toward future need rather than just 
dealing with present technology. As small bus nessmen who are. 
required by Federal law and regulation to provide a safe work 
p ace and who also benefit from a workman's compensation pro- 
gram we understand the need for universal work place safety. re- 

USNSA strongly supports legislation requiring training of fishing 
vessel crewmen In vessel safety and emergency procedures. Train- 
ing in the use of life saving equipment Is as important if not 
more Important than the equipment Itself, We also support legis- 
lation provid ng for the Secretary to approve training courses. 
Currently there are no requirements for fishing vessel safety 
training courses Me believe there should be. We urge that a 
provision for training be Included In a compromise bill. 

Regarding the gathering of accident data statistics we support 
legislation requiring uniformity n the collection «f accident 
data for all vessels in comnercial serivce, regardl«s of 
whether they are documented or numbered. We further support 
the collection of specific casualty data for the fishing in- 
dustry. The lack of data Is one reason that it has taken 
this long to develop a comprehensive approach to fishing 
vessel safety. 

USMSA supports the creation of the Fishing Vessel Safety 
Advisory Conmittee. USHSA looks forward to assisting this 
Important Advisory Comnittee in formulating workable life- 
saving equipment regulations for the fishing industry. 

This concludes our comtents on this important legislation. 
We hope the ccranlttee will expedite " ■ final drafting of a 
canbined bill, and that this year will see the successful 
passage of fishing vessel safety legislation. 

Thank you for your time, and thank you for listening. 



Senator Chafee. Okay. I'm going to ask you to demonstrate that I 
see that the TV people arrived so since 

Mr. SwrrLiK. We have a problem with the life raft in that there's very 
little space here. 

Senator CHAreE We'll make space. We'll move the table. 

Mr. SwrruK. What I suggest is we wait until after everybody 

Senator Chafee. I'll tell you what. They're set up. 

We'll do it now. How much space do you need? 

Mr. SwiTLEK. It's 10 feet in diameter. Of course when it inflates, it's 
10 feet in diameter. 

Senator Chafef, It's going to be a spectacular exhibit. 

Mr. SwrriJK. At which time I'm not quite sure it's going to be. 

Senator Chafee. We're going to test your equipment 

The room is sinking and we want to get on that raft. 

Mr. SwrruK. This is always like the nightmare of a student not being 
prepared for the exam. Life raft manufacturers are always aft'aid it 
won't work in demonstrations, but confident it will work in an emer- 

Senator Chafee We'll put you to the test here. When they're set up. 
they can let me know. Let's go and see this. 

Mr. SwrruK. All manufacturers have a device that's similar in design, 
althou^ we manufacture to our own standards which we feel are good. 
There are some products out on the market where the quality 

Senator Chafee You say it's not a raft. It's what? 

Mr. SwiTLiK. It has no canopy. It is a flotation device which is 

Senator Chafee You can climb up in it? 

Mr. SwrruK. out of the water, yes, to raise yourself above water. 

Senator Chafee Now, how heavy is it? 

Mr. SwrruK. It's 45 pounds. 

Senator Chafee 45 pounds? 

Mr, SwrruK. Okay. 

Senator Chafee AH right. Now. and how many can get in it? 

Mr. SwrruK. It will support six with an overload capacity of 10. 

Senator Chafee All right. Clong, clong, the vessel is sinking. Let's 
see what happens. 

Mr. SWITLIK. Okay. You snap this, pull the lanyard. The lanyard 
will, of course, be attached to the vessel. When it gets to the end— COj 
in cold temperature, and this has been in the trunk of my car. it takes a 
bit longer to inflate. 

So that's below standard right now. It is ready to board now. 

Senator Chafee I see. These are ropes to hang onto? 

Mr. SwrrLiK. Yes. 

Senator Chafee By the side? 

Mr. Swm-iK. And an equipment kit which has a repair kit and Coast 
Guard approved flares inside. 

Senator Chafer. And these are obviously to hang on when you're on 



Mr. SwiTLiK. Yes. 

Senator Chafee And — well, you passed that exam quite well. I'd say. 
That's spectacular. 

From the Audience. Senator, do they have a gauge on there so you 
can tell the condition of the CO^ cyhnder? 

Mr. SwrTLiK. No. there is no gauge. It would require annual inspec- 

From the Audience. I would think that a visual inspection gauge 
would be better. 

Mr. SwiTLiK, The problem with a visual reference string is it's inside a 
canister. You're going to get condensation. I think it's impossible to 
build anything that's impervious to the effects of sea water or marine at- 

Senator Chafee What's this over here? 

Mr. SwriLiK. That's the COj cylinder. 

Senator Chafee I see. 

Mr. SwrrLiK. And sea anchor retarded grip. 

From the Audience. Is this among those items that would be re- 
quired in the legislation? 

Mr. SwrrLiK- Well, the legislation requires two life rafts. There has 
been concern in the commercial fishing industry that the Coast Guard 
approved life raft as it's now constituted is much too large to fit on 
smaller vessels; and because it has a double canopy and inflatable floor, 
it has provisions for several days. It's intended for transoceanic voyages. 

Senator Chafee Where most of these boats would be in areas, par- 
ticularly with a color like this, where there would be heavy rescuing ef- 
forts, and they would be picked up rather quickly 

Mr. SwiTUK. Yes. 

Senator Chafee if they can survive, 1 assume? 

Mr. SwiTLiK. We in our industry feel that operating beyond 20 miles 
still needs the soleless type of life raft, but what we're trying to 
demonstrate here is that there are alternatives to what has been seen 
and approved by the Coast Guard in the past. We would like the Coast 
Guard to establish regulations and standards for devices like this so that 
the customer knows that it's going to be manufactured to a certain high 

Senator Chafee What do these retail for? 

Mr. SwriLiK. This particular one retails for about $1100. and they 
range up to about $1500 for the simple platfrom. 

Senator Chafe->:. If you increase your production, could you bring 
down your price? 

Mr. SwiTUK. That's difficult to say. 

Senator Chafee Sure. 

Mr. SwrrLiK, We are depending on a lot of other suppliers on it. 
Because they are constructed by hand, it is very labor-intensive. They 
are almost each one custom-made. 



Senator Chafee. What's the other equipment you've got? 

Mr. SwrruK. This 

From the Audience I'm still not clear on whether this is a required 
type of life vessel. 

Mr. SwrrL[K There is no regulation currently speaking to a minimum 
size life raft. 1 have some literature. 

From the Audience There's nothing in the pending legislation or 
nothing now? 

Mr. SwiTLiK. The pending legislation says life raft, and we are con- 
cerned about how life raft ultimately gets defined. The way life 
raft— approved life raft is defined now is based under the soleless con- 
vention which is an iniernational convention regulating lai^e vessels, so 
it's a large raft meant for transoceanic work. We feel that Uiis has been 
reprinted in the Ntsb report. There probably ought to be an approval 
process for three different ranges of life rafts, for vessels zero to 3 
miles, 3 to 20 miles and beyond 20 miles from the shore. 

From the Audience. So you want to reassure people who are con- 
cerned that they could not fit a life raft on their small boat that yes. 
you can fit something? 

Mr. SwrruK. Yes, there are devices that can work, but we would also 
like to see the legislation to ask for approval process ft-om the Coast 
Guard for a variety of appropriate equipment. Our industry is not inter- 
ested in selling inappropriate equipment. 

Senator Chafee. Let's get on with the hearing. 

Mr. SwiTLiK. This is a survival suit. I was asked to bring one of these 
up. Some people have never seen one. 

Senator Chafee. Bring it over here. 

Mr. SwiTLiK. The survival suit, although I didn't pack it that way, 
would be stored with the zipper down. It is quick donning, covers the 
person. There's another buoyant chamber. 

Senator Chafee Suppose you have your boots on and everything? 

Mr. SwiTLiK. You should keep your boots on. This is what they're in- 
structed to do in Alaska because in Alaska 

Senator Chafee Can you get into this quickly? 

Mr. SwiTMK. Reasonably quickly. I don't know if Cd try it in a suit. 

Senator Chafee Let me try. 

Mr. SwrrLiK. The way to try — the way to put it on is to put it out on 
the floor, sit down, extend your legs into the feet. 

Senator Chafee WeU. I'll tell you if your boat is sinking 

Mr. SwrrUK. The Coast Guard standard on survival suits requires that 
these be able to be donned in 60 seconds, and it may require practice, 
and this is where the training portion would be required. 

Senator Chafee Let me try it. 45 seconds so far. 

Mr. SwrruK. Once you know the principles of donning this and 
you've practiced 

Senator Chafee If goes faster? 

Mr. SwrruK, It is simple and you can do it speedily. 



This is the problem, though, that many people buy safety equipment 
and they have no idea of how the safety equipment is performed. 
They've never examined iL They've never looked at iL It sits under- 
neaUi a bunk or in the pilot house. 

Senator Chafee. How do I get that off? 

Mr. SwrruK. You grab the zipper. 

Senator Chafee. Wait a minute. 

Mr. SwrrLiK. We don't want to put your lie in it. Grab the zipper. . 

From the Audience. How long can you survive in that? 

Mr. SwiTLiK. It depends on the water temperature. 12 to 18 to 24 

Senator Chafke. This has buoyancy to it? 

Mr. SwriLiK. Yes, it does. It has adherent buoyancy in the foam, and 
there is a separate device which is inflatable orally which keeps you 
floating in an upright position. 

Senator Chafee. And this pulls over? 

Mr. SwrruK. Yes. the hood pulls over. 

Senator Chafee. And what are these? 

Mr. SwiTLiK. This is the buoyant part of it that keeps you floating 
upright, and then there is a pocket for a strobe light. 

Senator Chafee. Is thai right? 

Mr. SwrrLiK. Well, it's not twisted down. You have to pu^ down on 
this, push in. This demonstrates the necessity for training. I mean the 
first time that you see something you wouldn't want to have that same 
kind of difficulty when your vessel is leaving fh)m underneath it. 

Senator Chafee. How much do these retail for? 

Mr. SwrruK. The list price is around $300, but I don't think any of 
them are sold for that. The retail price that the manufacturers of these 
suits have told me to quote is around $2S0. although they may even be 
discounted fiirther than that. 

Senator Chafee. Well, the price would come down on these? 

Mr. SwrruK. Yes. The discounting that goes on on a retail level is 
pretty high in all of the equipment 

Senator Chafee. Until he gets in this in the cold water, he could sur- 
vive, you said, for 18 hours? 

Mr. SwriLiK. Dependent on the individual's mental attitude, the other 
conditions, whether there were any injuries, but approximately so, yes. 
12 to 18 to 24 hours. 

Senator Chafee Could you give me a hand-out of this? 

Mr. SwrrLiK, Sure. In Alaska they recommend you keep your shoes 
on because you might be washed on a remote shore, but around here if 
you get washed on shore you just go to the 7-11 and make a phone 

And I have one other item that I was asked to bring. 

This is the only one I could obtain on short notice. This is an 
EPIR8. I won't bother to demonstrate this here because you might get 
a Coast Guard helicopter flying in on this. This is an emergency posi- 
tive indicating radio beacon. These retail in the area list price of around 
$300 depending on the category, although there again they are heavily 
discounted by dealers. 



Senator Chafee How much did you say. $1,100? 

Mr. SwiTLiK. No, $300. These are heavily discounted, and you can 
probably purchase chese for around $200. 

Senator Chafee. And these would be for each individual? 

Mr. SwiTLiK. No. This is an individual personal one. This is my own 
personal EPIRB. Whenever I go out on a boat. I carry it with me. 

Senator Chafee. What do you call it? 

Mr. SwrruK. An EPIRB. emergency position indicating radio beacon. 
It's a — the current standard for KPiRBs. it broadcasts on an aircraft 
radio frequency but which is also picked up by the satellite system. 
There is a new proposed EPIRB system which will focus totally on the 
satellites, and so we'll be able to pinpoint a survivor in the water or 
where an EPIRB signal is coming from to within about 2 miles. 

Senator Chafee. And the idea would be that each crewman would 

Mr. SwiTLiK. No. one for the boat. This, as I say. this is a personal 
one. The regulation 1 think contemplates 

Senator Chafee. Would there be— by the way. I presume they're 
water resistant? 

Mr. SwtTLiCK. Yeah. This can be packed up into a life raft? 

Senator Chafee So they can pick it up. All right. 

Anything else you've got? 

Mr. SwiTUK Not that we can do on show and tell. 

From the Aldience. What is the shelf life of these rafts? 

Mr. SwiTLicK. The raft. well, with annual servicing it should last a 
minimum of 10 years. We have been manufacturing marine life rafts 
for 25 years, and we still have many of our original 25-year-old life 
rafts still in service. But to be on the safe side, we use a 10-year life. 

Senator Chafee. All right. Why don't you get set up again, please. 
What — this is addressed to Dr. Nixon, 

What puzzles me about this whole business is everything seems to 
make sense what we're suggesting, but nothing happens, and as you say, 
this has been going on for several years and you've got a high level of 
frustration; but I would think a fisherman, and we're going to hear 
from Mr. Mccauley. but 1 would think a fisherman would like a 
method of being compensated, a crew member, rapidly if he was in- 
jured in some fashion. 

Now, suppose he does not have the loss of a limb or a finger or 
something. Let's just say he got a broken arm. 

What happens under the current system? 

Dr. Nixon A lot of things can happen. If he's lucky 

Senator Chafee. Let's say he has a very amicable relationship with his 
skipper. The skipper and the owner are good people. They do their 
part, and there he is. What happens? He breaks his arm. A piece of 
equipment on a trawler fails and he smashes his arm. okay. 

Dr. Nixon. At this point 

Senator Chafef. But it's going to heal. It's not permanent. 

81-799 0-88-3 



Dr. Nixon, Right. There are no ground rules set at this point. The in- 
dividual crew member, who may be a good friend of the captain, is told 
"don't worry — I've got PMl insurance. I'll call the PMI carrier." At that 
point it's entirely up to the insurance company to decide just what level 
they're going to pay this injured fisherman. There is a floor called main- 
tenance and cure which exists right now. and the daily figure is bet- 
ween $8 and $12 a day here in the Northeast, it's up as high as $30 and 
$40 in the Northwest. 

Senator Chafee Who sets that? 

Dr. Nixon. That was initially set by a National Maritime Union con- 
tract in 1930 and has not been substantially updated. 

Senator Chafee, But that has nothing to do with the nonunionized 

Dr. Nixon. No. 

Senator Chafee It's standard? 

Dr. NixcN, The maintenance figure has ranged from that $8 to $12 to 
$15 flgure here in the Northeast for some 50 years. The owner, or his 
PMI carrier, is also required to pay the medical bills immediately as 
well. That's quite clear. The medical bills have to be paid for. 

Senator Chafee. Who says that? 

Dr. Nixon Fhe maintenance and cure concept. This is an old concept 
that's been around since the founding of the Republic, thai when 
someone is hurt aboard the vessel, the vessel owners must cure him. 
must fix that arm and must maintain him. provide him with food and 
lodging, but over the years that has eroded when that dollar figure got 
stuck at 8 to $12 a day. That's what we're arguing for today, to essen- 
tially expand that concept of maintenance to provide someone with a 
living amount of money under 1987 rules. 

Looking at the cases I've examined from around the country, that 
same broken arm would receive in one port $5,000 and in other ports 
$300,000. The same injury, the same loss of income but because the cur- 
rent system we have now is a crapshoot, highly dependent on your trial 
attorney and the insurance company. 

Senator Chafee. No. no, no. I'm not getting into the trial attorney. 
I'm just saying forget suing. Let's just say the person, as 1 say. everyth- 
ing is friendly: the owner of the vessel is a decent person. What hap- 
pens? Is the crew member just on his own to wrestle with the in- 
surance company, does the owner of the vessel do nothing; is it just 
you're out there and do the best you can; if you sue, you sue and if 
you don't, that's your business? 

Dr. Nixon, Typically an owner in an amicable relationship does try to 
help the injured fisherman. However, keep in mind that in the in- 
surance business there are the friendly people, the good hands people, 
who sell you the insurance policy, and then there's another room of 
gorillas, the claims people, who don't want to pay any money. It's not 
those friendly people who sell you the policy who end up writing you 
the claims check. 



So Ihe vessel owner calls the insurance company and says, lake care 
of my crew member. The insurance company then says, ail right, we'll 
pay the medical bills but, we're not paying more than 10 bucks a day. 
The vessel owner says, sorry. 10 bucks a day doesn't make it in 1987; 
and they say, look, this is a policy of indemnity. We're only required to 
pay what you're required to pay, and that's $10 a day. 

At that point the injured crew member says, I'm sorry, but I can't 
live on $10 a day. This lawyer here says the vessel owner was negligent 
and 1 can get more. I can get enough to pay my mortgage payment if I 
talk to this lawyer, and he at least files suit on my behalf. 

Senator Chafee So in every kind of an incident is there a suit? 

Dr. Nixon. No. sir, there's not. largely because in most cases the in- 
jury is minor, the period of disability is brief and in many cases, for ex- 
ample, the Point Judith Cooperative has a welfare fijnd. Sometimes 
fishermen carry their own disability insurance. The cases are handled in 
a variety of different ways, but in most cases there was a tremendous 
amount of injustice. If they had been working in a factory ashore in a 
much safer occupation, they would have recovered more for that injury 
in terms of workmen's compensation than they would have working 
aboard that fishing vessel; and that's where I think the ftindamental un- 
fairness of the current system plays out 

Senator Chafee. I just can't understand why there hasn't been more 
of an uproar over this. 

Dr. Nixon. Senator, there's been 30 years of uproar. 

Senator Chafee. Well, obviously the trial lawyers are defeating the 

Dr. Nixon. Yes. sir. 

Senator Chafee And as somebody who's been interested in this for 
some time, we don't hear as much from the fishermen as I thought 
we'd hear. Now. they are a fragmented group to stan with. They're in- 
dependent They do have organizations, but the organizations them- 
selves are fragmented. So it doesn't come to the attention of the 
Congress to the extent I think it should, and as you say. they got 
roundly defeated in the floor of the House. What was the vote last 

Dr. NixoN. We lost by over 100 votes. I think largely. 

Senator, most fishermen don't think it's a problem until they them- 
selves are injured. 

Senator Chafee, But after all, if 250 vessels are lost a year, there must 
be a stream of injuries in addition, in other words 

Dr. Nixon. Yes. 

Senator Chafee.— if you discount you say, all right it's the most dan- 
gerous occupation because of loss of life, but it cleariy must be one of 
the most hazardous occupations for accidents, never mind loss of life, 
isn't it? 

Dr. Nixon. Yes, it is. 

Senator Chafef. I mean all that equipment I've been on those vessels 
and been out just in a day trip, an 18-hour trip, and there are a lot of 
things going on at once on the deck of that vessel. 



Dr. Nixon. A lot can be done to make it safer, a lot can be done. 
The Point Club has developed 100 standards to make that working 
platfrom a safer environment. 

Senator Chafee. Let me ask you something else, one of the problems 
is if you would develop these regulations and you say a vessel must be 
approved by the Coast Guard and the crew must be — must have 40 
hours training, or whatever it might be, the answer comes back from 
the owners and from the insurance companies, the Coast Guard man- 
powerwise can't do this. They cannot come out to Akiachak, Alaska, to 
inspect some vessels, and with these vessels scattered all over the place 
and the Coast Guard has got so many duties levied upon it now. par- 
ticularly with the drug wars going on, that the Coast Guard just plain 
doesn't have the manpower to go and inspect — how many fishing ves- 
sels are there? 

Dr. Nixon, Thiny-five hundred is the number the National Marine 
Fisheries Service uses. 

Senator Chafef, You take that times five which would be the number 
of crew, five or six or whatever it might be. 

Dr. Nixon. Three. 

Senator Chafee Three, and then every one of them has to go 
through a course of some kind. The Coast Guard can't — so what good 
does it do to have a set of regulations? 

Dr. Nixon. Well. I think 5ie best part of the bill perhaps might be 
the Commercial Fishing Vessel Advisory Committee that will help with 
developing the regulations. You're exactly righL a Bering Sea factory 
processor does not have the same problem as an inshore lobster fisher- 
man in Rhode Island. We'd clearly have to recognize those differences. 
If we make some equipment change requirements, and 1 think what's 
been suggested in this bill are in fact good changes in the minimum 
equipment standards, keep in mind that a vessel owner wants to insure 
his vessel, and one of the first questions in the insurance application 
form is. has your vessel complied with all Coast Guard requirements 
for this class of vessel, and the surveyor which comes aboard checks to 
see that it's complied with all the Coast Guard regulations. 

Senator Chafee. What are the Coast Guard regulations? 

Dr. NiXON. Right now it's a very short list for fishing vessels. What 
I'm suggesting is that if you added diese, it would be something else 
the surveyor would check off on his form, and in fact we wouldn't need 
Coast Guard personnel on board every fishing vessel. They do go 
aboard fishing vessels fairly often anyway, and these would be a few 
more things to check for. i don't think the 

Senator Chafee. You mean they go aboard them in connection with 
the catch? 

Dr. Nixon. The fishery management issues, drug interdiction. 
whatever. They are aboard vessels. This would be something else they 
would look for beyond just a simple life jacket, a personal flotation 
device. On the licensing issue, however. 1 think you do present a pretty 
grim picture of 35.000 times three or four men all of a sudden needing 
licenses. I don't think thai necessarily is called for. 



If you look at the casualties that have occurred, they are largely on 
the big end of the spectrum, the larger vessels, the offshore vessels, 50 
to 60 feet and up; and I think we're talking about issues involving 
stability, involving real knowledge of offshore navigation that perhaps 
ought to be involved in a licensing program, but 1 think we're talking 
about a small percentage of the U. S. commercial fishing industry. The 
bulk_of those 35.000 vessels are small boats. 

Senator Chaffe. Well, do you think we should deal with a lobster- 
man that goes out from Prospect Harbor, Maine, he's alone and he may 
take his son with him once. It's really a one-man job. He goes out and 
tends 300 pots, whatever it might be? 

Dr. Nixon. Historically, that's been a very safe fishery. Senator, and I 
don't think licensing would be necessary or appropriate there. I think 
something like the survival suit and the flotation device like this is ap- 
propriate for even a small vessel like that. Those vessels do sink, they 
do flood. It certainly would enable the Coast Guard to have the time to 
go out and perform an air sea rescue. I don't think there's too much 
you can teach a lobstcrman about what he needs to do at sea within his 
3 to 4-mile range. 

But I'd also like to point out if we come up with an exam, it would 
have to be able lo be given orally in perhaps seven to ten different lan- 
guages because fishing in the United States of America is very much an 
ethnic business. 

This would be a very complex regulatory program for the Coast 
Guard to undertake and they know it. and that's why historically 
they've said perhaps this is something the industry ought to tackle on 
its own. 

Senator Chafee What do you think about the industry? How about 
this insurance business? I mean once upon a time insurance companies, 
certainly the factory mutual companies grew that made their reputation 
by stressing preventive maintenance, in other words, having fire inspec- 
tions and safety inspections in factories so they wouldn't burn down. 
Now. maybe the insurance companies do it already. Aren't they fussy, 
don't they care what the vessels 

Dr. Nixon, Senator, they're fussy in slump periods in the market. 
When money is tight, when really just the classic fishing vessel in- 
surance companies are left, yes, then they do require surveys. They took 
at equipment; Ihey want to make sure they have a good operator. But 
because this is a cyclic business, whenever we go into a period of high 
interest rates, we gel into cash flow underwriting, a lot of companies 
enter the business and begin slashing prices. They simply don't care 
what's on board, 'lliey want to get those premium dollars on January 
the 1st. invest them at 18 percent through the year so by the time the 
claim comes in in December, they've made a pile of money. It doesn't 
really matter to them. 

I've gone to the American Institute of Underwriters. 

I've spoken to their board of directors, their Fishing Vessel Safety 
Committee and said, why aren't you doing this, just the question you 
asked; and they said. look, it really doesn't matter to us. We simply ad- 
just our premiums to account for the losses that come in. 



They assert that the person who goes to sea has the burden for 
providing a safe platfrom for himself. "We are not going to presume to 
know what it takes to make a Bristol Bay gillnetter or a lobster boat or 
Gulf ship fisherman safer. That's beyond our knowledge. We're just 
businessmen in New York. They should know. They should take those 
precautions, and if they don't, we'll charge a higher premium next 

Senator Chafer I would think somebody would be around and say. 
look, I'll offer a lower premium in return for this vessel being more 
seaworthy and with the safety equipment on it. 1 won't charge such a 
high premium: thus. ( will get more business. 

Dr. Nixon. Senator, there are pockets like this around the country. In 
fact. The Point Club Jim McCauley will be discussing, is an example of 
good fishermen who banded together, and our long-term goal is, in 
fact, to lower those premiums, to start our own company and take our 
destiny into our own hands. 

Senator Chafee. Why aren't there more Point Cooperatives, Point 

Dr. Nixon. Largely because it takes a group of people who trust each 
other in the first place. The Point Club grew out of the Point Judith 
Fishing Cooperative where there's a 30-ycar history of men working 
together, sharing financial information towards a common objective. 
That is often not present in the rest of the country. It's mosdy charac- 
terized by independent operators who went fishing because they didn't 
like working with other people onshore anyway, and the idea of band- 
ing together and financially sharing risks is somewhat foreign to most of 
the industry. 

Senator Chafee Do you think it's— we're settling for short shrift here 
when we have a bill that has eliminated anything to do with pennanent 

Dr. Nixon. Well 

Senator Chafee. Just to explain the background for those here, we 
tried a bill last year that in effect was like workmen's compensation. 
Workmen's compensation says if you lose a limb on the job. then you 
receive X dollars. The trial lawyers fought that bitterly and said, you're 
taking away the individual freedoms of a fisherman, a crew member, by 
setting a cap on how much he received for a loss of a limb, a finger or 
whatever it is; and thus the only thing that we'll even consider in com- 
pensating in a bill is what they call temporary injuries, and that is some- 
thing that is going to be healed, cut. broken limb. 

Now, do you think we're not getting much by settling for just the 

Dr. Nixon. No. Senator. In the study that I did, we found very 
clearly that the big problem area was the temporary disability. The per- 
manent injuries we examined came in with dollar figures that actually 
worked out very closely to what somebody would have gotten in a 
workmen's compensation scheme. Those numbers are high, but they're 
high in any industry when someone is permanently disabled from a 
work-related injury. 



Senator Chafee We're not saying permanently disabled. If you lose a 
finger, it's a permanent injury, but it's not permanent disability. 

Dr. Nixon. It can be a permanent partial disability depending on the 
kind of occupation you have. 

Senator Chafee. I see. So you think that we haven't had lo give up 
the store? 

Dr. Nixon. No. I don't. I think it hits at the worst part of the 
problem. The problem that. A. a deserving fisherman doesn't get what 
he needs and. B. someone because of the skill of an attorney and the 
willingness of a jury to go along with an argument that he gets far in ex- 
cess, ten, 50, 250 times in excess of what his lost wages were and medi- 
cal expenses over the period of the injury. 

Senator Chafee. Now, in the bill I've got it's 80 percent of wages, 
and the House has 66-2/3. What do you think of those? 

Dr. Nixon. My recommendation to the House several years ago was 
the 66 figure. It turns out that when you examine the 66 versus 80 in 
terms of total amounts paid out. there isn't that great a difference in 
terms of total amounts paid. 

However, there could be a psychological problem, a perceptual 
problem that if someone is earning 80 percent of his wages while dis- 
abled and is tax-free as disability income is, that the incentive to return 
to work is diminished. So I think the 66 figure is very important. 

Senator Chafee. So you would go with the 66. Let me ask you this, is 
there going to be a dispute over what is wages? In other words, a crew- 
man is on a percentage of the total take, obviously that's not constant 
How do we know what his wages would have been, how do we figure 

Dr. Nixon. Well, the vessel keeps records throughout the year, fhe 
way the bill is structured when the vessel is not fishing, he's earning 
$30 a day. When it is fishing, he gets the — let's say 66 percent of what 
he would have gotten. Those share of figures are worked out 

Senator Chafee. Do you think that's fair? 

Dr. Nixon, Yes, sir. I do. 

Senator Chafee. The answers you've given, are they national answers 
applicable as much to the West Coast and to Alaska, for example, as 
they are to the Bast Coast? 

Dr. Nixon, Yes. sir. In fact some of thn strongest support I've seen 
for the bill has been in other parts of the country, in the Northwest, the 
tuna ficet in San Diego, The Texas Shrimp Association. We've worked 
all over the country, and there is a strong support for it. 

Senator Chafee Strong support from who? 

Dr. Nixon. Well, keep in mind that I'm talking about fishermen's as- 
sociations. In many cases a group like the North Pacific Fishing Vessel 
Operators Association is composed of vessel operators, but keep in 
mind that the crew members on board are the next generation of 
operators, and they're heavily involved in die decision-making process. 
We're not talking about owners putting somediing over on crew mem- 
bers. All the crew members I've spoken with don't want to have to go 
to see a lawyer to get what's due them. 



Senator Chafee. Why don't we get better support from Senators on 
this? Just take Senators. Why don't we get the West Coast— well, we've 
got Senator Adams. Why not Alaska 


Dr. Nixon. I see that answer coming around. 

Senator Chafee. Maybe I ought to be the one answering that. 

Dr. NixoK Look at the contributions. 

Senator Chafee You think it's the power of the trial lawyers? 

Dr. Nixon. Yes, sir, I do. I think what's at stake here is the future of 
Mercedes-ben?- dealers across the country. 

Senator Chafee That's pretty tough talk. 

Dr. Nixon. I've been at this for five years, and like I said, the most 
disillusioning day of my life was the day that bill went down in defeat, 
and it's because 40 men went with checkbooks for political action com- 
mittees to the House of Representatives. Two days before that bill was 
going to be voted on we knew we had support. They turned it around 
in two days. Yes, I am disillusioned and I'm upset. 

Senator Chafee All right. Well, thank you. Well, we got most of 
your testimony and the questions and answers. 

Mr. SwrrLiK. 1 can get more information to your staff later. 

Senator Chafee. Fine. Thank you very much for coming, both of 

Let's go with the next panel. Why don't we take Ms. Janice 
Defrances next. Ms. Defrances? Okay. Ms. Defrances, why don't you go 
ahead. Tell us your view on this legislation, your experiences. 


Ms. Defrances. I'll read my statement as I have it written here. 

Senator Chafee. Thai's fine. Maybe you could pull your chair over a 
little bit more and just speak right into that mike. That would be good. 
Go ahead. 

Ms. Defrances. Senator Chafee, Senator Hollings and the Committee 
on Commerce, Science and Transportation, I'd like to thank you for 
this opportunity to testify at a field hearing of a bill for S. 849, the 
Commercial Fishing Industry Vessel Safety and Compensation Act of 

First, I would like to express my endorsement of the bill. Time is of 
the essence. Each day and week brings news of more casualties and 
deaths on board fishing vessels. 

Each year Rhode Island loses fishermen to the sea. Unless there is 
legislation to mandate safety training and standards, the tragic problem 
will only escalate beyond its currently critical state. 

Without the passage of legislation, specifically, the bill S. 849. the 
lack of safety measures and perils of this hazardous industry on 
uninspected and ill-equipped fishing vessels will continue to grow at 
alarming rates. We need to make every effort to make fishing a 
prosperous and safe profession. We desperately need this legislation to 
mandate safely requirements for commercial fishing vessels. 



I became aware of the lack of safety standards and the hazardous con- 
ditions which exist in the fishing industry due to personal tragedy. My 
fiance was lost at sea on January 16, 1981 due to a fishing accident. 
Vincent lost his life to the lack of safety measures on board, die lack of 
expertise of the crew to rescue a man overboard, and the lack of rescue 
equipment being accessible. 

Since that date many more needless deaths and individuals have been 
lost at sea. The bill's intent is to promote safety on our fishing vessels. 
Some of the deplorable conditions on board and the lack of safely 
equipment contributes to the fishing industry being classified as the 
most dangerous occupation in the United States. This bill is the begin- 
ning to saving lives. 

In addition to the minimum safety provisions stated in the bill, an im- 
portant element cited by the National Transportation Safety Etoard is 
missing; that is, the need for safety certification and periodic inspec- 
tion of uninspected commercial fishing vessels. 

This mandatory inspection of fishing vessels will be able to routinely 
check the safety equipment and standards on vessels. These checks amy 
alleviate accidents which concur due to — this is a quote from the Safety 
Board's report to the absence of equipment of the Western Sea — the ab- 
sence of an Epirb which allowed the accident to go undetected for 
some time, the absence of exposure suits which drastically limited the 
survival time of crew members in the water, and the absence of the in- 
flatable life raft. This bill addresses both safety standards and a compen- 
sation for temporary injury incurred by seamen on fishing vessels. 

The current system for dealing with litigation for temporary injuries 
is ineffective. It is felt that this legislation should also incorporate some 
sort of appeal section for cases which may require a higher or lower 
payment than indicated on page 3. line 7 to 17. 

It is stated on lines 18 to 23 that the figures of compensation are sub- 
ject to possible increase or decrease, but this is in relationship to the 
Consumer Price Index. The request for an appeals would be in cases in 
which there are some extraordinary circumstances that want a higher 
payment of compensation given to the fishermen and his or her right to 
request this payment based on those circumstances. It is felt that the im- 
plementation of minimum safety standards on each fishing vessel will 
decrease the frequency of these compensations due to injuries. 

In addition to the safety standards, it is tcit that the mandatory licens- 
ing of captains requiring them to understand stability, the use of life- 
saving equipment, rules of the road, fire-fighting and water-tight in- 
tegrity will be instrumental in reducing the high loss of lives. This may 
not be able to be addressed in this current legislation, but there neetb 
to be a subsequent legislation in order to impact the mandates of this 

The required life-saving equipment including exposure suit. Coast 
Guard approved life boats or life rafts, emergency radios, fire detection 
and fixed fire-fighting systems and dewatering systems is appropriate 
for this legislation. An additional provision which is necessary in order 
to utilize this safety equipment is the need to require fishing vessel cap* 



tains and owners to provide minimum safety training to all crew mem- 

At this current lime there are no requirements to have licensed per- 
sonnel, and there are no manning requirements. 

Anyone at this lime can operate a fishing vessel with no experience, 
no knowledge of safety issues or procedures, no training, et cetera. It is 
no wonder that there have been needless tragedies when there has been 
such careless attention and lack of requirements to this profession. 

As I have staled before in other testimony, because there is no legisla- 
tion, there is no guarantee that crew members are trained in safety and 
emergency procedures. 

Unfortunately, many crew members and captains have the attitude 
that it will not happen to them or that there is nothing one can do. for 
it is the nature of their work. 

I would like to point out that that's not — that's just a general state- 
ment. That doesn't include all fishermen. 

It does not have to be so hazardous. It is incredible to imagine that 
anyone would take their crew and themselves out to sea without the 
necessary emergency and safety equipment on board as well as the 
knowledge of how lo use it, but again, these travesties happen endless 

No one can bring Vincent back, nor the many others that have died 
at sea due lo the lack of safety and emergency procedures. However, 
without question, this legislation will prevent many of the needless 
deaths by mandating better safely standards. We cannot delay passage 
again, for the cost of lives is too great. 

I propose if ihe compensation provisions in this bill elicit opposition 
as before when the association of Trial Lawyers of America refused lo 
endorse a combination of a compensation and safely law. then these 
two salient parts of this legislation should be separated in two disdnct 

As controversy over legislation transpires, at least die bill regarding 
mandatory safety practices can be implemented. 

Senator Chafee. Well, thank you very much, and dial's an interesting 
suggestion about the separating out of the two sections, the safety ver- 
sus the compensation. You mentioned about the appeal section. That's 
an interesting suggestion, too. 1 think one of the philosophies of the 
workmen's compensauon is that there be no form — dierc's a tradeoff. 
The worker is paid regardless of fault on his pari, and so the worker is 
covered regardless of what happens, even if he stuck his hand in the 

On the other hand, the owner is protected by having a limitation on 
what the payment will be. and the virtue of the system is that there's 
rapid payment. It's a no-fault insurance effect and it doesn't go on and 
on and on through appeal after appeal. 

In the particular situation that your fiance was involved in, as I under- 
stand it, he was knocked overboard and if they had had something like 
this that they could throw quickly to him, a raft or something of that 
nature, rapidly available, there's a belief he would be saved. Is that 
what the witness is saying? 



tains and owners to provide minimum safety training to all crew mem- 

At this current time there are no requirements to have licensed per- 
sonnel and there are no manning requirements. 

Anyone at this time can operate a fishing vessel with no experience, 
no knowledge of safety issues or procedures, no training, et cetera. It is 
no wonder that there have been needless tragedies when there has been 
such careless attention and lack of requirements to this profession. 

As I have stated before in other testimony, because there is no legisla- 
tion, there is no guarantee that crew members are trained in safety and 
emergency procedures. 

Unfonunately, many crew members and captains have the attitude 
that it will not happen to them or that there is nothing one can do, for 
it is the nature of their work. 

I would like to point out that that's not— that's just a general state- 
menL That doesn't include all fishermen. 

It does not have to be so hazardous. It is incredible to imagine that 
anyone would take their crew and themselves out to sea without the 
necessary emergency and safety equipment on board as well as the 
knowledge of how to use it, but again, these travesties happen endless 

No one can bring Vincent back, nor the many others that have died 
at sea due to the lack of safety and emergency procedures. However, 
without question, this legislation will prevent many of the needless 
deaths by mandating better safety standards. We cannot delay passage 
again, for the cost of lives is too great. 

I propose if the compensation provisions in this bill elicit opposition 
as before when the association of Trial Lawyers of America refijsed to 
endorse a combination of a compensation and safety law, then these 
two salient parts of this legislation should be separated in two distinct 

As controversy over legislation transpires, at least the bill regarding 
mandatory safety practices can be implemented. 

Senator Chafee. Well, thank you very much, and that's an interesting 
suggestion about die separating out of the two sections, the safety ver- 
sus the compensation. You mentioned about the appeal section. That's 
an interesting suggestion, too. 1 think one of the philosophies of the 
workmen's compensation is that there be no form— there's a tradeoff. 
The worker is paid regardless of fault on his part, and so the worker is 
covered regardless of what happens, even if he stuck his hand in the 

On the other hand, the owner is protected by having a limitation on 
what the payment will be. and the virtue of the system is that there's 
rapid payment. It's a no-fault insurance effect and it doesn't go on and 
on and on through appeal after appeal. 

In the particular situation that your fiance was involved in, as 1 under- 
stand it, he was knocked overboard and if they had had something like 
this that tiiey could throw quickly to him, a raft or something of that 
nature, rapidly available, there's a belief he would be saved. Is that 
what the witness is saying? 



Ms. Defrances. Yes. I reviewed the Coast Guard report last week, 
and in that report the crew member cited the accident. They said that 
Vincent was knocked overboard, that he was swimming towards the 
boat. At that point one of the crew members alarmed or tried to get the 
captain who was in the engine room to gel lo the wheelhouse to turn 
the boat around, but the wheel was not turned fast enough to make a 
Williamson turn. Because of the lapse of time, they weren't able to get 
to him soon enough. He still continued to swim. 

By the time they did get alongside of him at that point he was start- 
ing to submerge. They could not throw a life line or a life ring because 
they were tangled in knots across the top the boat. 

The equipment was on board. There were six life jackets on board. 
Neither Vinnie wore one. nor was one thrown to him because they 
were not accessible. So I believe it could have been perhaps a different 
situation if those things were available. 

Senator Chafee. Do you think — well, I agree with you on all the 
points you made, both the equipment and the training, and in this bill 
we don't get into the exact details of how that is to come about. We 
have — what do they call the group, the advisory group. We have an ad- 
visory group to set up how this is actually done. Dr. 

Nixon discussed the problems of the Coast Guard's time, and he indi- 
cated that maybe some of the larger vessels the Coast Guard would 
specifically inspect and the smaller vessels, there would be different 
techniques from this advisory group. 

Well. I appreciate your testimony, Ms. Defrances, and thank you for 
coming because you add a specific to this, and that's why we're here, 
trying to do something about this. 

Thank you very much. 

Ms. Defrances. Thank you very much. 

Senator Chafee Mr. Nail. Mr. Nail is a member of the — there are 
five members total in the National Transportation Safety Board. Mr. 
Nail is one of them. Why don't you tell us a little bit about what the 
Safety Board does. What's your range? You get into aviation accidents, 
too, don't you? 

Mr. Nall The NTSB. Senator, has been well-known over the past 
years as an aviation investigating organization. 

Probably 60 percent of our time is devoted to aviation accidents, but 
we also investigate selected rail accidents involving passenger trains or 
where there are certain dollar limitations, marine accidents of the na- 
ture we're talking about now plus other major marine accidents, certain 
surface accidents, and lastly hazardous materials and pipeline accidents 
that occur. 

Senator Chafee. As I understand it. in fishing vessel losses, you do 
not investigate automatically except if it's six lives lost or more? 

Mr. Nall. That's correct. Senator, as well as some other criteria. 

Senator Chafee. All right. Why don't you proceed. 




Mr. Wall Thank you. Senator. Wiih me today is Bill Gossard of our 
Bureau of Safety Programs and the principal author of the uninspected 
commercial fishing vessel study as well as Rachael Haltcrman who is 
Chief of our Office of Governmenl iand Public Affairs. Ms. Haltcrman 
is standing in the back. 

Senator Chafee We welcome all three. 

Mr. Nall. The safety board appreciates this opportunity to appear 
before you today to discuss S. 849. Wc arc very pleased for your time 
and consideration of this important legislation and your entire support 
for improved fishing vessel safely. My remarks will be of a summary na- 
ture and will not include all of the remarks that we have submitted for 
the record. 

We do investigate all major marine accidents that occur on navigable 
waters of the U. S. in one of three ways: By conducting our own in- 
vestigation, by participating in a joint investigation with the Coast 
Guard or by requesting that the Coast Guard conduct an investigation 
for the Safety Board. 

In addition to accident investigations and issuing safety recommenda- 
tions, the Safely Board undertakes studies that address safety issues 
developed through our accident investigations. We have, as you know, 
investigated 203 accidents from 1978 to mid-1987 regarding the safety 
needs for the uninspected commercial fishing vessel industry. 

Today there is no requirement that commercial fishermen who work 
on U. S. uninspected vessels complete any training necessary to perform 
their job safety, for the federal requirements for safety equipment ap- 
plicable are inadequate. 

The Safety Board believes the component to improve the safety level 
of these vessels already exist in the Coast Guard's technical circular and 
various training courses. We believe the Coast Guard should establish 
training requirements for captains and crew members commensurate 
with their respective responsibilities. 

Senator Chakbb. Let me just interrupt if 1 might at this point. I think 
it's important to get across, to stress that there are. you say in your tes- 
timony, in 1986 which is probably the last year you have figures for. 
there are approximately 100.000 commercial fishermen operating in the 
U. S. on 33.000 vessels, uninspected vessels. That means these vessels 
have no inspection from— not requiring inspection from anybody. Coast 
Guard, no government agency whatsoever; is that correct? 

Mr. Nall. That is correct, sir. 

Senator Chafee. And. furthermore, there is absolutely no requirement 
of any safety equipment or measures on these vessels? 



Mr. Nall. There are some minimal requirements. 

Senator Chafee. Some minimal requirements, you've got to have a 
life jacket? 

Mr. Nall, That's correct. 

Senator Chafek, But as far as the radio beacon they discussed or any 
form of a life raft or wet suit or 

Mr. Nall. Communications equipment. 

Senator CHAhEE Zero? 

Mr. Nall. That's correct. 

Senator Chafee. And I believe that the vessel that Peggy Barry's son 
was on off Alaska, he was lost in. I believe, 1985? 

Mr. Nall I believe so. 

Senator Chafee. That vessel was built before World War I that he 
was lost on. And operating off Alaska in those tumultuous waters, to 
give an indication of what the situation is now in the United States. 

All right. Why don't you proceed. 

Mr. Nall. We would request, as I say, the Coast Guard to establish 
training requirements for captains and crew members commensurate 
with their respective responsibilities, to establish licensing requirements 
at a minimum for captains and 

Senator Chafef. Would you set a limitation on the length of the ves- 
sels? You know the question that's going to be asked you. Well, the 
Coast Guard doesn't have time to race around and inspect every lobster- 
man upward in the country. Now, what would you say about that? 

Mr. Nall, Well, we do want and have recommended to the Coast 
Guard the licensing of all captains. Now, the licensing doesn't mean 
that there's a monolithic, singular examination. 

Senator Chafee Now, what is a captain, is a lobsterman a captain? 

Mr. Nall. I think if his boat were of a certain size, he would be con- 
sidered a captain. And again the Coast Guard would have to make a 
determination as to which small boats are excluded and which larger 
boats are included, so that's really a question of regulatory policy. But 
assuming we have a ship that meets what the Coast Guard determines 
to be within the regulatory scheme, then the licensing requirements 
could be manyfold. You could have two or three divisions somewhat 
similar to pilots licenses. There's a private pilot, commercial, air 
transport and so on. So it would be ludicrous to expect a lobsterman 
who falls under the act to have to pass the same kind of requirements 
of an ocean-going vessel. So we certainly would recognize the realities 

One good byproduct of the license requirement is that it helps us 
identify who the fishermen are for the purpose of sending them in- 
formation, for the purpose of giving them notice of various safety semi- 
nars and other safety information. So we think thai licensing, even if 
it's minimal, has a great deal of benefits to it. 

We also would ask the Coast Guard to expand basic life-saving equip- 
ment requirements, and I think you've had ample evidence of those 
issues today. 



Next, we recommended that the coast Guard establish stability in- 
formation requirements. Stability, unfortunately, is one of the most 
misunderstood areas among most of the crews that we see. Many ves- 
sels are altered, as the Senator knows. They originally were manufac- 
tured for one type of fishing and then are altered with no additional 
stability checks being done by naval architects or surveyors. 

Consequently, the crews may not know what unstable characteristics 
thai ship may have. We have asked the Coast Guard to develop 
stability requirements and also have the information published in such 
a form thai it can be readily used by the crews. And, finally, we do re- 
quest the Coast Guard to require vessel inspection lo assure com- 

Now. we recognize that Coast Guard cannot inspect every vessel. The 
FAA does not inspect every aircraft. Much of this is delegated to 
private industry; much of il is done simply on an audit basis. But if a 
captain knows that his vessel is subject to surveillance and investigation 
and inspection by the Coast Guard or whatever group is ultimately to 
have that responsibility, that within itself may create compliance. 

Without going into a great deal of detail about commercial fishermen 
training, we recommend that both for Che captain, for permanent crews 
and also for casual employees, part-time members of the crew. 

With regard to licensing, the licensing should be given either orally 
or in written form. We have no problems with that, and the essence of 
the examination should cover such areas as vessel safety including 
navigation and seamanship, rules of the road, vessel stability, fire-fight- 
ing, water-tight integrity and the use of life-saving equipment. 

Senator Chafee. Why don't you just read the example on page 4 for 
the record. I think they might be interested in it. on the training and 
what the effect a young woman who didn't have the training was. 

Mr. Naix. it's a very vivid and sad example. Senator. 

That is. on August 7, 1985 a U.S. uninspected fishing vessel. SEA 
DANCER, with four persons aboard, sank in Bristol Bay, Alaska. The 
seas were 16 to 20 feel high; winds were 35 lo 45 knots. The captain in- 
formed the Coast Guard and several nearby fishing vessels that the ves- 
sel was taking on water and needed assistance. 

One fishing vessel, PEGGY SUE. reached the SEA DANCER and as- 
sisted in the rescue of the captain and two others. One person aboard 
the SEA DANCER was reluctant lo enter the water, even though she 
was already in an exposure suit, it was all donned and zipped up. She 
had not been trained in the proper use of such life-saving equipment; 
and as the vessel sank, she remained aboard. 

The captain testified that he saw her appear and then quickly 
disappear. She has never been seen again. Not only must the safety 
equipment be aboard the vessel, but ihere must be regular training in 
the use. 

Senator Chafee In your statement, you said the U.S. inspected or 



Mr. Nall. Uninspected. 

Senator Chafee That's a mistype? 

Mr. Nall. Tliat's a mistype, yes. sir. 

Senator Chafee. It was uninspected vessel. We belter correct that one 
for the record. All right. 

Mr. Nall With regard to stability requirements, there is a very 
definite need for vessel stability tests and understanding the stability 
information, so that it is uniformly provided to captains of uninspected 
commercial fishing vessels. 

Senator Chafee. Could you read that part on the these courses and 
explain what the North Pacific Fishing Vessels Owners Association is? 

Mr. Nall The North Pacific Fishing Vessel Owners Association 
training courses cover fundamental safety concerns of appropriate to 
uninspected commercial fishing vessel operations. However, those 
courses are voluntary. 

During two years about 420 captains and crew members have 
attended the courses in the Seattle area. That is gratifying, but there are 
approximately 16,500 active fishermen to train in Washington State 
alone. Mandadng training for captains and crew members would 
accelerate attendance of such courses and would no doubt spark 
development on new private and public training centers. 

Senator Chafee Let me just ask you about that, if I mighL Most of 
these captains are pretty salty people, and they're not inclined to think 
that they need to go to these courses. It's too bad that there couldn't be 
a reward in some way. in other words, for those who attend, their 
insurance rates would be lower, if there could be an incentive for 
people to attend these courses. But have you ever seen that work, that 
the insurance people will lower the rates? 

Mr. Nall I think for the reasons Mr. Nixon said it is unlikely that is 
they're not in the rate reduction business. They are in the risk 
management business, and there's apparently not enough incentive 
there. That's not to say in some insurance industries there aren't groups 
that are trying to do something. 1 think you'll see in workmen's 
compensation there are some attempts at education. You see incentives 
in some of the casualty areas of fire insurance where the insurance 
companies traditionally have mandated alarms and other systems; but 
apparenUy there is not in the typical indemnity business that kind of 

The incentive is one of education, to make the crew members, to 
make the captains aware of the kinds of options that are available, to 
sensitize them to the fact that accidents are not inevitable. 

Accidents are caused by human frailties and human factors— lack of 
foresight by human beings. That's the kind of accidents we have. We 
have to leach them that it is not inevitable when you go to sea that you 
lose people, that we can do some things to improve safely. Those are 
the incentives, you would think. And I agree with you and your 
comments earlier, you would think that given the numbers of suits, and 
the possibility of extreme financial loss, that would be an incentive 



Senator Chafee Is that true, many of them are uninsured? 

Mr. Nall. About 30 to 50 percent, but that's a very difficult number 
to come up with. 

Senator Chafee. You mean uninsured for the loss of the vessel or 
uninsured fur injuries and liability? 

Mr. Nall. It would be for both. There is no requirement. 

Senator Chafee. Totally zero insurance? 

Mr. Nal[,. In the Western Sea accident Mr. Gossard pointed out 
there was no casualty or indemnity or hull loss coverage. 

Senator Chafee. So if a seaman on it is injured, he gets zero? 

Mr. Nall. He would have to look to the assets of the company for 
whom he was working, his employer. Whatever he gets is whatever is 

Senator Chafee. All right. Why don't you continue. 

Mr. Nall. With regard to the life-saving equipment requirements, we 
find that the absence of life-saving equipment drastically reduces the 
chances that the captain and crew members can survive in the harsh sea 

We believe that life-saving equipment necessary to effectively meet 
most uninspected occurrences at sea. fires, capsizings and founderings 
should be required on all uninspected commercial fishing vessels. 

Senator Chafee What were those two again, please? 

Mr. Nall. The most unexpected occurrences at sea consist of fires, 
capsizings and founderings. Those were the three primary reasons for 
loss at sea. We are recommending bilge and fire alarms. Those are not 
part of Senate 849. but we feel that bilge alarms in areas where there 
can be flooding would make a considerable difference in terms of safety 
equipment, inflatable life rafts, we've already covered, an operable 
emergency radio and EPIRBs. 

We recognize that voluntary associations are making the difference 
and that some groups, the North Pacific group as well as The Point 
Club and others, have developed safely requirements. The stales, some 
states are doing some things that may help on a voluntary basis. 
However, we feel that mandatory requirements will reach every vessel 
and every crew. 

Efforts to improve the safety level of vessels in an association such as 
The Point Club have greatly enhanced safety, but these tend to exclude 
unsafe vessels. One of the things you have to think about is that if the 
requirements are mandated, then every vessel, regardless of safety 
objective and the safety attitudes of the captain or owner, must comply 
with those requirements; and the voluntary programs are very good 
and we would not in any way say anything negative about them. But 
the people who attend those are people who are already safety 
conscious anyway: and we feel that they're not the strong risks, they're 
not the ones, the operators who create the greatest risk. So we continue 
to stress the need for mandatory life-saving equipment requirements. 

In conclusion, I'd like to note that the Safety Board will continue to 
investigate major fishing vessel casualties and report on the critical 
safety issues that are uncovered from our investigation. We are 



currently investigating the catastrophic losses of the uninspected 
commercial fishing vessel, the NORDFJORD. that occurred on 
September 19. 1987 and the fishing trawler/processor UYAK II, a loss 
on November 5, 1987. 

These Wo casualties involve the loss of nine fishermen and fishing 
vessels valued in excess of $2.5 million. Additionally, the Safety Board 
is aware of the tragic loss out of Newport, Rhode Island, of the fishing 
vessel. Reliance, and we look forward to the Coast Guard^ 
investigation and report on that casualty. We are in constant 
communication with the Coast Guard on the progress of their 
investigation in the RELIANCE accident. 

This concludes my formal statement. Senator, and if you have other 
questions 1 would be glad to answer those. 

[The statement follows:) 

Senator Chafee, the National Transponation Safety Board appreciates this oppor- 
tunity to appear before you today <o discuss S. 849. a bill to establish guidelines for 
compensation for injuries by seamen on ilshing industry vessels and require safety 
regulation for such vessels. We are very pleased for your timely consideration of this 
important legislation and your untiring support for improved fishing vessel safety. 

The Safety Board investigates all major marine accidents that occur on navigable 
waters of the United Slates and major marine accidents that involve U S, merchant ves- 
sels in international waters and accidents involving U.S. public vessels and non-public 
vessels. Under joint regulations promulgated by the Board and the U.S. Coast Guard, 
the Coast Guard conducts the preliminary investigations of all marine accidents and 
notifies the Board if an accident is within its jurisdiaion. The Safety Board then 
responds by conducting its own investigation, by participating in a joint investigation 
with the Coast Guard, or by requestmg that the Coast Guard conduct an investigation 
for the Safety Board. 

In all cases the Safety Board completes its own independent analysis of the accident 
and dele imi nation of probable cause or causes. As a result of its investigations, the 
Board directs safety recommendations to agencies such as the U.S. Coast Guard, the 
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, hshing vessel companies and other 
maritime organizations. 

In addition to accident investigations and issuing safety recommendations, the Safety 
Board undertakes studies that address safety Lssues developed through our accident in- 
vestigations. Today. I would like to provide you with the recommendations arising out 
of our study, based on 203 accidents from 197S to mid-19S7 regarding the safety needs 
for the uninspected commercial fishing vessel industry. 

The term "uninspected commercial fishing vessel" as used by the Safety Board 
denotes a vessel not subject to US. Coast Guard material inspection, certification and 
safety standards in such areas as hull, machinery, lifesaving and firefighting equipment. 
and navigational equipment. Additionally, the vessels generally are not required to have 
licensed personnel nor documented seamen and there are no manning requirements. 

In 1986. there were approximately 100,000 commercial fishermen operating on 33,000 
U,S. uninspected commercial fishing vessels These jishermen participated in landing 60 
billion pounds of fish valued at S2.8 billion They risk their lives daily in a harsh and 
hostile environment that demands safe operating practices, solid training in safety 
measures and, in the event of an accident, adequate safety equipment in good working 

Today, there is no requirement that commercial fishermen who work on U,S. 
uninspected commercial fishing vessels complete the training necessary to perform their 
jobs safely. Further, federal requirements for safety equipment applicable to 
unitLspectcd crunmercial fishing vessels are inadequate. 



The Safety Board believes thai the components to improve the safety level of these 
vessels already exist in the Coast Guard's technical circular and the training courses. 
What we believe is needed is for the Coast Guard lo: Establish training requirements 
for captains and crewmembers commensurate with their respective responsibilities. 
Establish licensing requirements, at a minimum for captains. Expand the basic lifesav- 
ing equipment requirements. Establish stability infomiation requirements. Vessel inspec- 
tion to assure compliance. 

Commercial Fishermen Training 

On August 7. 1985 the US. inspected fishing vessel SEA DANCER, with four per- 
sons onboard, sank in Bristol Bay. Alaska. The seas were L6 to 20 feet high, and winds 
were 35 to 45 knots. The captain informed the Coast Guard and several nearby fishing 
vessels that the vessel was taking in water and needed assistance. One fishing vessel, 
the PEGGY SUE reached the SEA DANCER and assisted in the rescue of the cap- 
tain and two others. One person aboard the SEA DANCER was reluctant to enter the 
water even though she was In an exposure suit. She had not been trained in the 
proper use of such Ijfesaving equipmem and, as the vessel sank, she remained aboard. 
The captain testified that he saw her appear and ihen quickly disappear She has never 
been seen again. The Safely Board determined that conlnbuting to the accident was 
the owners failure lo ensure that the SEA DASCER's captain was adequately trained. 

The Safety Board has addressed the need for training captains and crewmembers in 
a number of other catastrophic accident reports, including its report on the sinking of 
the SANTO ROSARIO. the loss of the AMAZING GRACE, the capsizing of the 
AMERICUS. and the disappearance of the ALTAIR. Other Safety Board reports, such 
as those on the sinking of the BONAVENTURE. the capsizing of the LIBERTY, and 
the sinking of the ATLANTIC MIST, highlighted the need for training in specific 
areas, such as watertight integrity. 

The Safety Board has attempted to address the training issue in three ways: through 
the Coast Guard, through fishing vessel associations, and through individual fishing ves- 
sel companies. 

Even though commercial fishing is a specialized and dangerous acbvity. with the 
potential for catastrophic consequences if tasks are performed incorrectly, there are no 
safety training requirements. Training is available from some proprietary fishing vessel 
organizations and some universities involved in fishmg vessel safety. 

The Safety Board is aware of iwo developments that could significantly improve com- 
mercial fishermen training: the training courses and "Vessel Safety Manual," prepared 
jointly by the (Toast Guard and the North Pacific Fishing Vessel Owners' Association 
(NPFVOA). and the Coast Guard's Navigation and Inspection Circular 5-86. which 
provides technical information used in the Manual. 

The NPFVOA's training courses cover fundamental safety concerns appropriate to 
uninspected commercial fishing vessel operations. However, these couises are voluntary. 
During two yeais. about 420 captams and crewmembers have attended the courses in 
the Seattle area. This is gratifying, but there are approximately 16.500 active fishermen 
to train in Washington 

State alone. Mandating training for captains and crewmembers would accelerate atten- 
dance at such courses and would no doubt spark development of new private/public 
training centers. 

The Coast Guard already has developed the framework for a mandatory national 
commercial fishing vessel training program by approving the "Vessel Safety Manual" 
and its accompanying training classes. The effort should now be accelerated to require 
training for all commercial fishermen and to develop training centers like NPFVOA's. 
which meets Coast Guard training criteria. To accomplish this effort, the Coast Guard 
should establish minimum safety training requirements. 


About 0430. on July 23, 1984, the 70.5- foot- long US. fishing vessel SANTO 
ROSARIO. while fishmg about 35 nmi cast of New Smyrna Beach, Rorida, capsized 
and sank. Three crewmembers were rescued by a fishing vessel nearby, but the fourth, 
sleeping below deck, went down with the vessel and was drowned. 



About November 24. I9fl4 the 86- foot- long, uninspected US. fishing vessel 
AMAZING GRACE sank about 80 nmi east of Cape Henlopen. Delaware: there 
probably were seven crewmembers aboard. The AMAZING GRACE has never been lo- 
cated, and the crewmembers are missing and presumed dead. A 16-day search by the 
. Coast Guard turned up only one of the two liferafts from the vessel. 

Both the crew of the AMAZING GRACE and the SANTO ROSARIO were typical 
of most fishing vessels. The captains had no formal training in vessel safety. Most cap- 
tains simply serve as deckhand maces and as operators under other captains who also 
had very little formal training in stability, Fircrighting or use of lifesavmg equipment. 

Currently, there is very little if any incentive for a captain to seek training. The only 
measure of a captain's worth is his or her ability to locate and catch fish. There is no 
incentive to take lime off work to attend training courses, seminars, or e:ipositions that 
a?dress safety. 

Training and licensing of uninspected commercial Fishing vessel captains go hand-in- 
hand. We believe there should be a federal requirement that a captain of an 
uninspected commercial fishing vessel have a license, and that the license can be issued 
only after meeting minimum safety qualifications. Most importantly, the captain should 
demonstrate that he or she meets these minimum qualifications by passing a written ex- 
amination or oral examination on practical problems in vessel safety, including 
navigation /seamanship, rules of the road, vessel stability, lirefighting. watertight in- 
tegrity and the use of lifesaving equipment. In addition, the captain should demonstrate 
eligibility for the license through time in service to show proHciency in the skills re- 
quired Ibr commercial fishing operations. 

The Safety Board believes that the Coast Guard is equipped to institute such a 
licensing program and has already undertaken such programs for other marine 
operations — for example, the licensing of operators of uninspeaed towing vessels. Such 
a licensing program would raise the safety level in commercial fishing vessel operations 
in several ways First, the captain would be better prepared to handle an unexpected 
life-threatening emergency; second, the captain could disseminate valuable emergency in- 
structions and provide drills on the safety features of the vessel for his crew prior to 
departure: third, the captain could impart navigation and seamanship skills to the crew: 
and finally, the training required for such a license could cause a greater appreciation 
of the need for the readiness of safety equipment and Che periodic maintenance of that 

Stability Requirements 

Two tragic casualties focused attention on the problem of fishing vessel stability. 
About 0230 on February 14. 1983 the fishing vessel ALTAIR departed Dutch Harbor. 
Alaska for the crab fishing grounds near Pribilof Island in the Bering Sea. About 0330, 
the helmsman of another fishing vessel en route lo f>utch Harbor saw the ALTAIR 
proceeding on a course toward Pribilof Island at about ten knots. About 0830, the fish- 
ing vessel AMERICUS, a sistership to the ALTAIR, departed Dutch Harbor for the 
same crab fishing grounds. Both the AMERICUS and the ALTAIR on departure were 
fully loaded with crab pots. About 1430 the capsized hull of the AMERICUS was 
sighted about 30 nmi north of Dutch Harbor The ALTAIR was never seen again. The 
AMERICUS' seven crewmembers and the ALTAlR's seven crewmembers are missing 
and presumed dead. The value of the two vessels was estimated at S6.2 million. 

The Safety Board concluded in the investigation of the ALTAIR and AMERICUS 
sinkings that the probable cause of the capsizings was the vessels' Inadequate intaa 
stability caused by improper loading and the addition of trawling gear. Contributing to 
the accidents was the owners' failure to determine the stability characteristics of the ves- 
sels and to amend the vessels' stability information afler trawling gear was installed, 
and the captains' failure to comply with the provisions of the existing stability informa- 

There is a definite need for vessel stability tests and understandable stability informa- 
tion to be unifoimly provided to captains of uninspected commercial lishing vessels. 
The Coast Guard recognizes this need in its voluntary navigation circular NVIC 5-86. 
which devotes considerable attention to stability. However. NVIC S-S6 provides only 
voluntary guidance and. therefore, cannot effectively address the stability issue. 



In cKder to address stability in any meaningful fashicui. stability testing for all 

uninspected commercial fishing vessels must be required. Additionally, any time a fish- 
ing vessel undergoes major structural alterations Uiat shift the vessel's center of gravity. 
further stability tests should be required. In addition, stability characteristics and 
guidance on proper loading of an uninspected commercial fishing vessel must be 
provided to captains in a form they understand, and stability information must be kept 
on the vessel where the captain can easily find it 

Lifesaving Equipment Requirements 

In many casualties, the absence of lifesaving equipment drastically reduced the 
changes tfiat the captain and the crewmembers could survive in the harsh sea environ- 
ment. The Safety Board believes that lifesaving equipment necessary to effectively meet 
most unexpected occurrences at sea — fires, capsizings. and founderings — should be re- 
quired on all uninspected commercial iishing vessels. This includes exposure suits (in 
applicable waters), bilge and fire alarms, inflatable liferafts. an operable emeregncy 
radio, and emergency position indicating radio beacons. (The Congress has taken action 
on the need for EPIRBs and the Coast Guard's rulemaking was published in the 
Federal Register on September 3, 1987.) 

As a result of our study we recommended that the Coast Guard undertake a num- 
ber of actions to mmimize and reduce the tragedies at sea involving uninspeaed ccmii- 
mercial fishing vessels. A number of these safely recommendations require 
Congressional action. Most notably we recommended that the Coast Guard: 

— Seek legislative authority to require the licensmg of captams 

— Seek legislative authority to require stability tests be conducted and that complete 
stability information be provided lo captains. 

—Establish minimum safety training standards, 

— Seek legislative authonty to require basic lifesaving equipment including but not 
limited to: Exposure suits in applicable waters. Flooding detection alarms and 
automatic dewatering systems. Fire detection alarms and fixed firefightmg systems for 
enginerooms. Liferafis to accommodate all persons onboard. Emergency radios with an 
independent power source. 

— Establish standards for the implementation and use of the new 406 MHz emer- 
gency position indicating radiobeacon. 

—Seek legislative authority to require that all uninspected commercial fishing ves- 
sels be certified and periodically inspected by the Coast Guard or its recognized 
representative to ensure that the vessels meet all applicable Federal safety standards. 

—Include in the final rule on "Operation of a Vessel While Intoxicated" an ab- 
solute prohibition against the use of alcohol and/or drugs while engaged in commer- 
cial fishing operations 

The Safety Board believes that uninspected commercial fishing vessel safety can be 
effectively improved by these recommended actions. S. 849 addresses a number of 
these areas of concern in the section on safety standards 

The Safety Board strongly supports Congressional efforts to provide a minimum 
safety framework to improve uninspected commercial fishing vessel safety. 

In conclusion, I would like to note that the Safety Board will continue to investigate 
major fishing vessel casualties and report on the critical safety issues that are uncovered 
from our investigations. Currently, the Safety Board is investigating the catastrophic 
losses of the U.S. uninspected commercial fishing vessels NORDFJORD of September 
19. 1987 and the fish trawler/processor LTAK II loss of November 5. 19R7 These 
two causaities alone involved the loss of nine fishermen and vessels valued in excess of 
$2.5 million. Additionally, the Safetv Board is aware of the tragic loss of the F/V 
RELIANCE out of Newport, Rhode Island on or about November 12. 1987. We look 
forward lo the U.S. Coast Guards investigation and report on this casualty. We will be 
in constant communication with the US Coast Guard on the progress of their in- 

That completes my formal statement I would be pleased to answer any questions 
you may have. 



Senator Chafee Yes. What happens in other countries, is this as dan- 
gerous an occupation in other countries? Let's take England, operating 
in the North Sea. That's dangerous. What's their record, and the 

Mr. Nall Senator, because of the nature of the resources that we 
were able to give to this study, primarily through the assistance of Mr. 
Gossard, we did not do a comparison of international data.. 

1 can tell you, however that the United Kingdom in 1975, a dozen 
years ago, enacted for vessels of 12 meters and larger, substantially the 
same kinds of safety requirements that we're talking about here ;and 
they reported to a government agency of the United Kingdom last year 
in 1986, that in that period of lime there was a decrease of 32 percent 
in vessel loss. 

We feel that there is a direct relationship between the safety require- 
ments and the number of losses. That shows us a significant history of 
reduction in one of our neighbors, the UK. The Norwegian govern- 
ment, as well as other Northern European governments, are concerned 
about safety requirements, but 1 cannot give you a statistical com- 

Senator Chafee. Can you folks all hear in back? What would you do 
with this bill to make it better? 

Mr. Nall We would like to see the addition of bilge alarms. We 
think that that would assist the crew in knowing of problems early, 
being aware of problems before they become drastic. Fire alarms. If 
something as simple as a type of fire alarm that all of us have or should 
have in our homes were installed aboard the ships or aboard these ves- 
sels rather, we would see a significant reduction in the fires aboard the 

We would like to see licensing of captains for the reasons that we 
have staled, and thai licensing process could be manyfold in various 
levels and stages depending on the distance from shore that they 
operate. We would like to see training given a lot more emphasis, not 
only with the regular crews but for the casual employ and part-lime 

We would like to see simulation conducting drills. We have simula- 
tions of accidents in many other areas of transportation. We feel that 
simulation training in survival should be given to these crews, even if it 
were a day or two's course. A great deal can be taught to them in basic 
survival and first-aid on the seas. 

Finally, we would like to see a stability review and a mandated re- 
quirement for stability information on all vessels, not just those 
manufactured after the effective dale of the act. We would like to see 
stability information required of all existing fishing vessels which would 
mean a survey borne at the cost of the vessel owner itself. 

Senator Chm^eh. Now, you know that presents great problems again 
on the Coast Guard manpower. 

Mr. Nai-L I don't think the Coast Guard has the manpower lo do it. 
sir. certainly not without a great deal more budgeting than they have 
now. However, there is. as the Senator well knows, a substantia! group 
of surveyors and architects whose expertise lies in that area. 



Senator Chxfee. And who would check to see that the vessel had the 

Mr. Nall Again, the Coast Guard would have to conduct spot audits 
or a percentage of safety checks. It could not look at all fleet. It could 
require the filing of the stability letters. That would require a minimum 
of manpower. 

Senator Chafee In your testimony you talk about two vessels leaving 
Dutch Hartwr, both of them capsizing in the same day. I guess. Could 
you go over that. 

Mr. Nall. On the same day in the same area. 

Senator Chafee Could you read that perhaps into the record starting 
at about 2:30 in the morning on February 14th. 

Mr. Nall. At that time on February 14, 1983, the fishing vessel 
ALTAIR departed from Dutch Harbor. Alaska, for the crab-fishing 
grounds near Pribilof Island in the Bering Sea. About 3:30 A. M. the 
helmsman of another fishing vessel in route to Dutch Harbor saw the 
ALTAIR proceeding on a course toward Pribilof Island at about 10 

At about 8:30 in the morning the fishing vessel AMERICUS, a sister 
ship to the ALTAIR. also departed Dutch Harbor for the same crab- 
fishing grounds. Both the AMKRICUS and the ALTAIR on departure 
were fiilly loaded with crab pots. About 2:30 in the afternoon 

Senator Chafee Of the same day? 

Mr. Nall Of the next — during the day of the same day. the capsized 
hull of the AMF,RICUS was sighted at about 30 nautical miles north of 
Dutch Harbor. The ALTAIR was never seen again. The AMKRICUS" 
seven crew members and the ALTAIR'S seven crew members are miss- 
ing and presumed dead. The value of the two vessels was estimated at 
$6.2 million. 

The Safety Board concluded in the investigation of the ALTAIR and 
the AMERICUS sinking that the probable cause of the capsizing was 
the vessel's inadequate intact stability caused by improper loading and 
the addition of trawling gear. Contributing to the accident was the 
owner's failure to determine the stability characteristics of the vessels 
and to amend the vessel's stability information after this trawling gear 
was installed and also the captain's failure to comply with the provi- 
sions of the existing stability information. 

Senator Chafee So there were 14 men lost in the same day in the ex- 
act same area? 

Mr. Nall. That's correct, and as the Senator recalls, these were sub- 
stantially altered vessels that were originally designed for one purpose. 
Then trawling gear was installed later without any supervision by any 
stale or federal agency as to the stability results occurring from those 
changes and alterations. 

Senator Chafee Now, I think it would be of great comfort to the 
families of the RELIANCE if your organization were good enough to 
investigate that accident. Could you do that? 



Mr. Nall. Senator, we are working daily. I talked on last Friday with 
Mr, Lou Colucciello, the head of our marine division. We are looking 
carefully at those facts and at those circumstances, and if we can pos- 
sibly include that within our manpower, we will The Senator knows, 
and I think it important for the public generally to realize, that the 
Safety Boards employees include only 325 warm bodies nationwide in 
10 field oflices and in Washington. 

So given the limitations of resources and given the other accidents 
that we are now actively engaged in, we will do our best to attempt to 
determine the cause of the RELIANCE sinking. The vessel has been lo- 
cated. The Senator is well aware of that. Some initial findings have 
been made by the Coast Guard. We will attempt to investigate that 
again given the resources. We will do our best. 

Senator Chafee. Yes. There's a firm belief that it was hit by another 
ship in those shipping lanes where it was. 

AH right Mr. Nail, thank you very much. I appreciate you and your 
associates being here. 

Mr. Nall. Thank you. 

Senator Chafee Mr. Jim McCauley, president. Point Judith 
Cooperative Association. Okay. Mr. McCauley, you're the man who 
knows the local area, and you've been mentioned several times 
favorably, so why don't you go to iL 


Mr. McCauley. I am president and manager of the Point Judith 
Fishermen's Cooperative and The Point Club which is a self-insurance 
company. You can well appreciate it's an elected position in both cases, 
so that puts me in a very tenuous position. 

Senator Chafee. Well, I'd like to see you reelected, Mr. McCauley. I 
believe in reelection of individuals. 

Mr. McCauley. I was a fisherman for 28 years basically in the of- 
fshore dragging. I have been working in offshore lobstering as well. I 
continue to have an ownership in an 85-foot steel stem trawler which 
happens to be named the ALLIANCF, which was kind of a scary situa- 
tion when you hear something on the radio or television to make sure 
you've got the name correct when your vessel is also out in the same 
kind of weather. 

in 28 years, Senator, 1 have many times encountered some serious cir- 
cumstances on the water. I don't believe there's very many people in 
our cooperative or our Point Club that have been at sea for any length 
of time that have not had some close calls. 

Senator Chafee Can people hear in the back? Is that not on at all? 

Mr. McCauley, I've got a cold coming on today so I'll try a little 
louder. As I say, most of us have experienced some kind of actual 
casualty. I was involved in my early days in one that — a 72-foot shrimp 
vessel that 1 was a crew member on was cut in half by a freighter, and 
we managed to survive that one. Several occasions I was out in over 
100 miles an hour on my own vessels in which any one could have 



been a disaster, so this is part of the business, and I don't think we can 
get away from that point of view. 

It does happen. 

None of which— none of the things 1 happened to mention I think 
were necessarily correctable. They are something we try to avoid but it 
does happen. The point in testifying today on — we're really testifying 
on behalf of The Point Club which is a self- insurance organization, 
presently insures 62 fishing vessels, primarily draggers. 

We have two — at this time we have two offshore lobster boats and 
these vessels are from Connecticut to Rhode Island primarily, 
Massachusetts and some from Maine. 

We got into this whole thing because we really didn't have what I 
would call effective insurance. We played no part in how that insurance 
was being carried out or the management of that insurance which of 
course the position we're in we were very concerned about. We are basi- 
cally fishermen-owned vessels. Those are the people we have in our or- 

When someone asked me the question, do you represent fishermen. ! 
say. yes, I do. only from the point of view that in our society, fishing 
society is what I call it here in Point Judith, we're pretty close. Most of 
the boats are owner operators. The captain is part of the crew in the 
sense he works on deck right alongside everyone else. He's a friend of 
those crew members. 

And the treatment that some of the insurance companies historically 
have given crew members was something that we couldn't abide by. So 
we went on our own and decided we would have our own insurance 
company representing our own crew members to make sure that they 
got a fair shake. I think we're doing that job. 

Senator Chafee. Are you self-insured or do you contract with an in- 
surance company? 

Mr. McCaulev. We have reinsurance. We. however, make all the ar- 
rangements as to who is in the club, all the regulations pertaining to 
that, the membership in the club, and as far as that goes, this is accord- 
ing to the vessel qualifications and everything like that; and also we 
take an 21 active participation in the claims management. 

Senator Chafee So one of your members would pay a premium to 
you, to the club, and the club then invests that, or does the club then 
reinsure with another organization? 

Mr. McCauley. Well, at this point we take a part of the liability in- 
surance, that's our risk, and then from on top of that we will take rein- 
surance and take certain parts of that risk with the intention that as we 
accumulate more funds and invest those funds properly, we will be able 
to eventually take a bigger and bigger part of that and retain more and 
more of the actual premiums. 

Senator Chafer And. in effect, you would be a mutual insurance 

Mr. McCauley. in effect, we are right now. Many mutuals even do 
reinsure through various agencies, "fhere are higher levels of insurance 
like the million dollars range is with Lloyds of London. This is not un- 



usual and most insurance companies are done that way. So the manage- 
ment of it is very critical that you do it correctly and know the people 
you're working with. We're not open to just everyone. 'Ilie insurance 
companies that have taken those on knew that. 

We had a group for 31 years that was with one insurance company so 
they had— we had a track record, so they were able to take that track 
record and convert it into a self- insurance and know that historically if 
we do the same as what we've done in the past, that they should be 
home free on this one and they would take the risk, and that's why we 
took the risk as well. 

However, now our management is a lot better and we are addressing 
the problems of the crew members which I believe you are addressing 
here in this bill. Some of the circumstances as far as maintenance, the 
levels of maintenance and things, 1 think are absolutely essential. 

I'd like to make one comment on this bill that I've heard other 
people testify today, f think it's time wc got one of these bills passed. I 
wouldn't try to keep changing too many things or addressing too many 
other issues. 

It cannot be all-encompassing. I think it's time that you took this bill 
and got it through the legislation and get it passed so that we have a 
starting place. In this bill is the place for a committee, a national com- 

It's that national committee. I believe, that can step in and address fu- 
ture legislation. This is going to be an ongoing process. 

Senator Chafer Its better to settle for a half a loaf, you say, and get 
it rather than striving for— and I'm not arguing with you. I think this is 
quite common. This is what legislation is all about. But you say, don't 
try to get too much, just get a bill passed and build on that? 

Mr. McCauley. Exactly. I think even the Coast Guard has come out 
with some problems with licensing, for example. We all recognize, yes, 
it would be good to have licensing, but if it's going to hold up this bill, 
if it's going to change the opinions of Congress in the passage of this 
bill or in fact the idea of the cap last year of $500,000 which happened 
to defeat the bill. Professor Nixon has come out and said, we can live 
without that cap. 

It's still a g(X)d bill as it stands. It will address a lot of issues and it 
does address a lot of issues. I think it makes this bill, an actual fact, 
makes an insurance company take a second look at the fishing industry. 
It specifies enough so that there's some grounds for taking a good look 
at it. 

The worst thing in some cases, and one of the purposes of this bill is 
to encourage insurance companies to look at the fishing industry, to 
give us a heller shape, to do more for us; but in actual effect, you start 
in the very first statement saying it's the most dangerous occupation in 
the United Stales. 

If 1 were on the insurance end of the thing, I would automatically 
bow to that one and find some other thing lo insure; but, nevertheless, 
we do have a serious problem and I think that some of the things we're 
doing here in our own club have given us some insight as to what some 
of the corrections can be. 



I'd like to address some of the specifics of this bill. Senator. In par- 
ticular. 1 strongly recommend only one change, and Chat would be the 
change from the 80 percent to a 66-2/3. I said I do represent fishermen, 
and I still feel I can say that. I am in agreement with the $30-a-day min- 
imum, but 1 don't think that wc should consider the possibility that any 
employee or any crew members or anyone else that's insured should 
end up with the possibility of receiving more tax-free dollars than what 
their income was previous to that. That is a possibility within the 80 
percent situation. 

I think you're trying to encourage people to go back to work and not 
to end up in some kind of a permanent welfare state. 1 think that most 
of our people and our — as long as the issue of their compensation is 
real, it addresses their needs, they're willing to go along with that and 
not worry about lawsuits and all the rest of it, that is our experience, as 
long as you can maintain the people at the level that they are used to 
living at. 

And you can't expect it to be anything else but that. You have to 
recognize that fishermen throughout this United States, and there may 
be some groups that have low incomes, but the average I would say, 
depending on the region and the kind of fishery, may range anywhere 
from $20,000 a year to $100,000 a year. 

Senator Ciiafee. When you say fishermen, you're talking crew mem- 

Mr. McCauiev, Crew members, that's right. It's conceivable you can 
run into those kind of wage levels. To guarantee an 80 percent wage 
level like that may be prohibited. It represents a real 

Senator Chafee. What do you think the average income is? Of course 
average is a dangerous word. 

Mr. McCauley. That's right. I really hate to refer to it because each 
vessel category may have an average, but in Rhode Island, you're 
probably looking somewhere between 20 and 40 and some, of course, 
much greater than that. That's just my guess. 

Senator Chafee. Sure. 

Mr. McCauley, But as I say. unless that maintenance fee is enough 
to maintain that person, he is going to look to a possible suit. The tem- 
porary injury situation that's included in this bill, this allows thaL I was 
very pleased to see, though, that in that there is a penalty to the insurer 
that in the event they don't provide maintenance and cure, then they 
are subject to suit and the full recourse of the courts. 

I think that you have to make sure that the crewman is treated 
properiy, and I think that the provision you have in this bill, at least at 
that level of compensation, will guarantee that It's very important that 
we have that kind of a relationship. I think you heard the question ear- 
lier, and it is disturbing to me that there arc only a certain number of 
vessels that are actually insured at all. 

Senator Chafee, I'd like to ask you about that statistic. What do you 
think of the vessels that— well, take just the ones that deal with your 
co-op. What percentage of them do you think are insured? 



Mr. McCauley. 1 would say almost all. i can only think of possibly 
one or two that are not, but those that are not usually are the family 
situation where they have maybe the capiain and his wife, for instance, 
may be fishing on the boat, on the very limited circumstance. 

I don't know whether I mentioned it before, but the insurance levels 
today, the premiums are exceptionally high. My vessel today, the in- 
surance premium is equal— the annual insurance premium is equal to 
what I paid for my first vessel which happened to be an 80-footer when 
1 bought it back in the 1960s, so that's the kind of costs we're looking 

Senator Chafee. And that's even as a member of your Point group: is 
that right? 

Mr. McCauley. That's right. That's the level of premiums. Even 
though we have very good rates, that's still the level we're at. 

Senator Chafee. Would there be a dividend like most mutuals, or 
aren't you into that? 

Mr. McCauley. As the club grows and as the investments increase, 
that will come about That's our plan obviously. 

There are some in the North Pacific that have been in existence for 
quite some time, and they have had excellent results, and actually their 
premiums on Pmi are nonexistent because of the reinvestment, so 
they're able to carry that out 

Senator Chafee. Have you found, in your group, the club. The Point 
Club, do you follow the requirements that this legislation — I mean do 
you have training, do you have wet suits, do you have the radio iden- 
tification beacon equipment and life rafK? What do you mandate for 
the vessels that belong to your club? 

Mr. McCauley. Actually. Senator, we have 94 specific items which 
were in fact mentioned in the National Transportation Safety Board 
review, and they've been mentioned specifically in The Point Club, but 
we have 94 items that we require a vessel to have. We're talking about 
vessels mostly between 60 and 95 feet. These 94 

Senator Chafee Are crew members of what, three or four? 

Mr. McCalley- Three or four mostly, and these requirements are far 
in excess of what your legislation is requiring. They go into great depth 
as to actually the structure of the vessel, whether it's the height of the 
hatch combings, things of that nature, very specific, the kind of win- 
dows that are in the vessel. 

Senator Chafee. Stability? 

Mr. McCauley- Yes, stability is also included. 

However, the stability issue is — right now we're concentrating really 
on new vessels and also those vessels would have tanks. They've 
refrigerated sea water because they're actually carrying water within 
their holds which are one of the more dangerous things a vessel can do. 
and we recognize that so we've concentrated on that. We're a new club. 
We've only been in existence a year ago June so we're really picking 
apart those areas which we feel are most critical. 



As far as training is concerned, we've just recently and in fact in 
November of— this past November 

Senator Chafee. You mean last month? 

Mr. McCauley. Yes. We instituted a program with the University of 
Rhode Island fishery school and run by their staff. It was a three-day 
session. We had the first — the first class had 10 crewmen and captains 
go through it similar to what the North Pacific Vessels Group has done. 

The first day was safety procedures which included actual boardings 
on the rafts, donning the suits under certain circumstances. It all took 
place in Wickford Harbor. 

The second day they did the medical al sea which is very extensive, 
just how to handle certain cases, a limited amount of CPR; but it was 
actually designed for trauma-type cases. 

On the third day they did fire-fighting and they actually had the op- 
portunity to put out fires at an installation over in Jamestown, and they 
were able to use all the various types of fire extinguishers. 

Those that went through the class turned out to be real disciples of 
the program coming back and saying how great it was to experience the 
hands-on use of the various types of equipment, especially the actual ex- 
perience of doing this kind of thing as you experienced yourself It's 
not an easy thing to do. 

Senator CHAreE It's harder to get into than I thought 

Mr. McCauley. But. nevertheless, this is what we plan on having for 
all our people. At this time it's a voluntary program; however, we're 
looking at the possibility of how far it can go. It's pretty hard to get 
somebody that's definitely negative on a program to get into the whole 
thing, though. You really have to want to participate and 

Senator Chafee Can't you make a requirement or don't you have 
that much leverage yet? 

Mr. McCauley. That's really what it amounts to. Senator, We really 
have a problem with leverage in all cases. I think the captains are look- 
ing at some of their crew members and the shortage of crew members. 
There's not necessarily an overabundance of crew members available 
these days, and I think this is true in many ports, but you can influence 
them; and that's one of the strengths I think we have in this area that 
we've been able to use, peer pressure, whatever, to get things done. 

[ think we'll get this program done. This was a first try. I think it was 
a successful try. and we're very encouraged by the results, and now that 
we've run those few people by, I think that they'll all agree that we'll 
be able to get most of those people through that course in a very short 
order. Ihat was kind of a trial run. We didn't want to run too many 
through it until we found out what problems there might be in the 
training of it. 

Senator Chai-ee. Do you have bilge alarm requirements? 

Mr. McCauley. Very definitely. A bilge alarm in each compartment 
is a definite requirement. In fact, we have held up on insurance and 
put vessels on port risk so that they could not sail, if we took them into 
the program and found out on that first survey thai they were not ade- 



quately covered under the alarm systems thai we require. I wiii say that 
about insurance. 

And we've experienced this, if in the event a vessel does not comply 
or is unable to meet our requirements for any reason or has exception- 
ally bad experience for whatever causes or reasons, and we do 
decide — the big event is to cancel that insurance, it's a very difficult 
position for me and the other members of my board of directors to 
make thai decision because actually in fact you most of the time are 
putting those people out of business. 

If they have a mortgage, they arc required to have insurance. That's 
required by the bank, and in the event that their insurance is cancelled, 
it's very doubtful that they could find insurance elsewhere. 

There is no catch-all type of insurance program that's mandated, so 
this is one of the criteria of most insurance companies. I ask the ques- 
tion, have you ever had your insurance canceled. If the answer is yes. 
it's very unlikely you would be able to get insurance at this present day 
and age. 

Senator Chafee But it seemed to mc that therefore there would be a 
high incentive for the people to meet your requirements, bilge alarms 
or wet suits or whatever, but sometimes you cancel not because of 
physical characteristics or equipment of a vessel but because of the crew 
or the skipper or something? 

Mr. McCal'lry. That's possible, but it's generally considered to be an 
unseaworthy condition of one kind or another, that wc determine it to 
be an unseaworthy condition: and usually in almost every case that I 
can recall, we've had the person in to express our opinion, our views. 
They've been given every opportunity to correct any situation we see 
happening. It's very, very critical of us. 1 know, to be able to do this, 
but we have the risk of all our other members at interest. 

Senator CHAf-"EK. How's your accident rate been? 

Mr. McCauley It's been very good to date. We always worry about 
that because we hate to make that statement, but we've had very good 
results. I think everyone has approached the whole issue on a different 
level, the fact that their neighbor, the person on the other side of the 
dock is involved in this, they're at risk. They don't take some of the 
chances maybe they did previously. 

Ihcy're more cautious about all issues. The particular issue addressed 
in the transportation board, for example, on drugs and alcohol, is a big 
issue that we've addressed prohibiting it on the vessels. There's a sign 
to that effect that it's on the vessels. We're very critical about that. We 
look to sec that they police each other in that particular issue. There's 
no place at sea for that kind of activity, and it's very strongly dis- 
couraged and obviously we have some leverage over the owners thai 
have this insurance, and we really push on those particular issues. 

Senator CEiAf-KR l)o you have a waiting list of those who would like 
10 join up with you? 

Mr. McCali-KY- Well, it's kind of by invitation more than anything, 



Senator Chafee I must say if one of my children were going to sea. I 
would kind of like them to go on one of your vessels. 

Mr. McCauley. I appreciate that, and that's actually what we in- 
tended. We're trying to build a good reputation of safe boats. I think 
it's the way to go. But it's not opened to everyone. There are certain 
classifications of vessels that arc at sea now that you probably could say 
are uninsurable. We wouldn't want to take the risk. If some day there's 
no-fauU insurance, that's another case, but we don't have that situation. 

Senator CHAi-Ti-, What now. putting on your hat. as representing the 
crewmen, what do you think of the — what do you think of the limita- 
tion and collection for a temporary injury, in other words, the bill, the 

Mr. McCaui£Y. The temporary injury aspects of it I think are very 
reasonable. I think realistically we are going to be able to get to the 
heart of the problem which is really the cost of medical bills and so 
forth, get that taken care of and get the maintenance programs started 
off very quickly. This is what our whole approach is to handling a 

We've probably got the reputation in town of paying our doctors and 
hospital bills faster than any other entity in the state. We believe in 
that, and as far as our crew members, that situation as soon as an acci- 
dent takes place, we have someone that meets with them, talks to them, 
see what their needs are. 

As soon as we can. we establish what maintenance level, in other 
words, what their pay has been, what level they're looking for. and we 
try to accommodate a level similar to what you have here in the bill. 
We actually operate under those basic assumptions that you've got here, 
the 66-2/3 and things of that nature, come very, very close to matching 

Senator Chafee. And you found that the crewmen like to appreciate 
this, they get paid quickly, it's settled, they don't have to go to a 
lawyer, they don't have to sue. they like that? 

Mr. McCauley. For the most part, that's the way it has been. We 
would hope thai down the road that's the way it will continue to be. 
We would never — this area in Point Judith was never that strong on 
suits against the vessel owners anyway. I can't recall too many instances 
like that, unless it was through pure neglect of the insuring company, 
and we did have a few incidents like that which is one of the reasons 
we ended up with self-insurance. You have to address the person's 
needs. I'm certainly sure if I had a mortgage and a family to feed. I 
would want my needs addressed, and that's Che way we approach it 

Senator Chafee Promptly, too? 

Mr. McCauley Promptly. 

Senator Chafee One of the — somebody spoke to me the other day 
about— this is a general question, not tied in with your particular ac- 
tivities, that if a vessel is lost and just never shows up, never bodies 
found, that there's a tremendous difficulty in collecting for the death of 
that individual. Lets say the vessel is insured. Is that true? And what 
happens in those instances, do you have any familiarity with that? 



Mr. McCauley. Not too much. I do know there's a period of time or 
period of waiting that 

Senator Chafee It's quite substantial, isn't it? 

Mr. McCauley. It is. 

Senator Chafee Could it be 18 months somebody said, something 
like that? 

Mr. McCauley. I think it is quite a long period of time. I'm not sure 
of that answer. 

Senator CHAFiiE I3o you use equipment similar to this, your folks? 

Mr. McCaulf.y. Well, most of our vessels are offshore vessels outside 
of 20 miles so they usually have a canopy and so forth. Mr. Swillik sup- 
plies that kind of a raft as well. This is more of an inshore type of raft. 

Senator Chafee. Is that a wet suit similar to what your folks have? 

Mr. McCauley. The same, yes. 

Senator Chafee And you would have one for each crew member? 

Mr. McCauley. Thai's right, that's right. In some cases the crew 
member— I've heard of this. We don't do it on my particular 
vessel — but in some cases the crewman owns his own. That may be 
worthwhile. At least he's familiar with what his equipment is and main- 
tains it himself. 

Senator Chafee. It's like looking at your own parachute, you give it 
high attention? 

Mr. McCauley. Exactly. It's not always true that the boat supplies 
the equipment because it depends on how much the person values his 
life, and that goes along with. I think, the voluntary training aspects of 
this and everything. When you go. you have to know what you're gel- 
ting into. It's not easy. 

Senator Chafee. Is there a down period that is better for training in 
the wintertime, can you get these fellows more? 

Mr. McCauley. Not really. I would say that in Point Judith the best 
money is made during the winter months which 89 is probably why we 
worry about the winter months. The fish prices are higher, the risk is 
greater. Che rewards are also greater. It's one of the reasons we have so 
much trouble during the winter months. 

Senator Chafee Okay. Two other questions, what do you think about 
licensing of captains? 

Mr. McCauley. I think the licensing issue at this point is much too 
complicated to get into. I think that issue should be left for the com- 
mittee to look at. I think it ultimately we may get there but not now. I 
think it clouds this bill. 

Senator Chafee What about mandatory training of the crew? 

Mr. McCauley. I think the same is true there. I believe that some of 
the programs that we're doing on a voluntary basis can possibly be of- 
fered under some kind of an umbrella later on. Again, it might stall this 
bill. I believe that that can be addressed as well by the committee to 
see what future legislation, the degree of difficulty, where the money is 
going to come from, how it would be funded. None of those questions 
are obvious at this point. I wouldn't want to have anyone even consider 
holding this up based on those problems. 



Senator Chafee. Now the inspection. It greatly appeals to me having 
the insurance, your situation, where you folks are all in it together and 
thus you're very anxious that anybody who belongs to this entity is a 
safe vessel because it affects you. your premiums, your vessels, your 
costs. So I like that. But what are we going to do about vessels that 
don't belong, and how are we going to have some kind of inspection on 
them and who would do it? 

Mr. McCauley. Well, I think what we've got here today is kind of 
the minimum. I think these items that we've got in the safety require- 
ment pan of the bill really address the marginal operator, almost that 
person that's close to being a violator in a sense of regulation. You 
have to force that person to do what is right and reasonable. I think 
you find that in many areas, but in this particular case, we're Calking 
about the possibility of toss of life. 

I think ^is is a start. 

Senator Chafef- And who would do the inspection, do you think? 

Mr. McCauley. In this particular case, of course. I think we're talk- 
ing about Coast Guard boarding and enforcement. 1 don't think that we 
should ignore the fact that the Coast Guard is quite effective right now, 
I can give you a for instance. I was boarded once not — maybe it was 
several years ago. and my numbers were on the side of the vessel when 
I had just started painting it, and they were not there, and I was 
boarded; and the captain of the Coast Guard vessel staled unless I had 
those letters in the appropriate size and the total markings on that ves- 
sel, he'd consider boarding me every day until such time I decided lo 
go in and get Chat addressed. 

He says, at the same time, it would be a good idea if you got everyth- 
ing else that you might be missing in your vessel requirements. As it 
turns out. 1 really only had one thing, and that was a horn chat was not 
working properly at that time which it had been but for some reason it 

I went in and I called my local Coast Guard here in Point Judith 
after I made the appropriate changes I was required to do. They came 
down, checked everything out again, give me a clean bill of health, and 
it went in as part of the record. I didn't see anything wrong with that 
kind of procedure, if you could do something like that, it's easier, 
though, for the local Coast Guard personnel to board the vessel while 
the vessel is at the dock to review some of the problems and look over 
their safety devices rather than an at-sea boarding which is a much 
more costly venture, and I believe that they're capable of doing and can 
do that and will do that, and in our case have done it. So I think 
there's a lot more effectiveness there Chan we're hearing about. 

Senator Chafee. Of course, our situation is a little simpler because 
our vessels tend to congregate in a few places, but you listen to those 
Senators from Alaska and it is true, i mean just a bit of trivial informa- 
tion. I think Alaska encompasses something like five time zones. I mean 
it's a big state. I may be wrong on chac. but. anyway, it's tremendous 
and so diey're just getting the Coast Guard to come in their situation is 
very, very difficult because they're scattered so. 



Well, you've been very, very helpful. We sure appreciate it You're 
really speaking from somebody who has got vast experience and also an 
organization that's doing something about this. 

Do you want to discuss the RELIANCE incident just briefly? It's 
your thought that it probably was hit by another vessel in the 

Mr. McCauley. I was asked that question. It is in a place where that 
could happen. I think that was my answer. It's the bearings that we 
have for that where we think that vessel is. and 1 think that's quite cer- 
tain and is probably true, i know fishermen who work in that area if 
they find a new wrecker, that's probably it because we know every 
wrecker that's down there; and that is in the shipping lanes and under 
the conditions like you would encounter in 70 mile an hour winds. It's 
very difficult, almost impossible, to pick up a small vessel in a 60-foot 
range by a larger vessel because of sea return and other problems 
caused by rain and things like that. 

Radar is quite ineffective on small targets under those conditions. 
However, we can't ignore the fact that it was serious wind conditions, 
and there's always that other possibility. I don't think, unless that vessel 
is inspected on die bottom and viewed, you would be able to make that 
determination properly. 

Senator Chafee. What about on the RELIANCE looking at their 
radar, wouldn't they be able to pick up a larger vessel? 

Mr. McCauley. Yes, they would pick up the larger vessel for sure, 
but that's assuming that everything is operating properly at the lime. 
It's not always that easy to avoid under those weather conditions. 
You're not that mobile. There are times that I've been out in excessive 
weather conditions like that that I really had a limited amount of ability 
to move around. It's not easy even to turn around, you know, on high 
seas without exposing your sides and so forth to taking heavy seas 
aboard. So you can't really judge what their reaction might be if there 
was something like that taking place. Speculation on this one is very dif- 

|The statement follows:] 


Good morning .Mr. Cliainnan and members. Thank you for the opportunity to com- 
ment on the provisions in S. B49. I am James A. McCauley. President and General 
Manager of the Point Judith Fishermen's Cooperative Association. Inc. and President of 
the Point Club, a self- Insurance company formed In June of 1986. 1 was an offshore 
lobster and finlish fisherman, captain, and boat owner for twenty-eight years prior to 
assuming my present duties I continue to have ownership in an 85 foot steel stem 

I am testifying today on behalf of the Point Club. The Club presently Insures 62 
flying vessels, primarily draggers. and a few lai^e lobster boats. The Club now insures 
vessels in Connecticut. Rhode Island. Massachusetts and Maine, 

The Point Club insures fishermen owned vessels implying a hands-on knowledgeable 
and actively participating owner. In addition, crewmen on out vessels are usually con- 
sidered friends due to the close working environment with the captain who is in most 
cases the owner. Because of this relationship, the board of Direaois of the Point Oub 
pay particular attention to the well being and needs of o 



Temporary Injury: Sec. 101 

A high percentage of our personal injuries aboard Poinl Club vessels Tall into the 
temporary category. Avoiding a civil action over a temporary injury class of injury as 
stipulated in the bill offers an insurance company Uie opportunity to minimize of 
eliminate the high costs of investigative fees, court costs, legal fees, and the costs in- 
curred through delays in agreeing on a settlement. 

The most important service we can provide to an injured seaman is to cover his 
medical costs and guarantee an equitable wage until he is ready to return to work. 

I strongly recommend a 66 2/J percent of the wage or share over the 80 percent 
proposed in the bill I am in agreement with the S30 each day minimum. 

The 80 percent level is unreasonable if you consider the wage scale of many of our 
fishermen. Depending on the region and the fi.shery, a crewman's annual wage many 
range from S20.000 up to SIOO.OOO. In any the mamienancc schedule of payment 
should not exceed the after tax wage, Ihe 66 2/i perceni level would also be consis- 
tent with other industry levels of maintenance. 

The maintenance fee must be high enough to maintain the injured seaman in the 
manner and life style to which he is accustomed as determined by his past earning 

I was pleased that the bill provides for the insurer to lose the benefit of the tem- 
porary injury clause if the maintenance and cure requirements were not met 

I fully support the two year statute of limitation provision of the bill. The "tail" of 
any insurance claim causes insurance cosls to escalate due to unresolved cases being 
reserved. Subsequent years premiums are based on reserved amounts which are usually 
higher than the final setllemenL Establishing a shorter time frame requirement should 
improve the climate for marine insurers. 
Tide II Sec. 201 Fishing Industry Vessel Safety Requirement 

I support the safety provisions in S. 849. In my opinion the requirements mandated 
here are standard equipment on most good vessels. It is unfortunate that the committee 
is required to legislate safety measure which are aimed primarily at marginal operators? 

Our own "Club" has a list of 94 items in addition lo the specific marine surveyors 
recommendations for each vessel. Some of our requirements were referenced in the 
safety study carried out by the National Transportation Safety Board Our standards are 
too complex to be incorporated in legislation, but high standards must be achieved if 
there is going to be a significant reversal in fishing related losses. 

The Point Club requirements on stability issues concentrate on "tanked" vessels 
using refrigerated sea water (RSW). new consirucbon. major alterations of structure, or 
use of new gear which might contribute to stability problems. Although our concerns 
parallel that of S 849, implementation and interpretation of the findings of the stability 
tests are still being evaluated by our Board of Directors, 

Termination of Unsafe Operations — Terminating an unsafe operation has the 
potential to prevent certain kinds of losses, but this provision should not be considered 
a sure cure. Many potentially unsafe maneuvers are temporary and unintentional. Most 
are brought on by unusual conditions: weather, temporarily increased traffic, heavy 
concentrations of fish causing deck loading, or limited fishing opportunities requiring 
fishing activities in untried areas. 
Commercial Fishing Industry Vessd Advisory Committee 

In my opinion, the Advisory Committee has ment in that safety legislation will not 
end with the passage of this bill Many of the concerns and recommendauons of the 
National Transporlaiion Safety Board have yet to be incorporated in legislation. 
Specifically, the licensing issue requires a great deal of evaluatitm which could be a 
charge of the committee. To be effective, the committee may have to be structured by 

I have <q)posed a licensing provision m the safety legislation. Legislating sound 
seamanship and sound judgement is questionable Testing cannot lake the place of at 
sea experience. Those of us in the filing industry that are committed to entities like 



ihe Point Club work continuously to increase the level of knowledge and profes- 
sionalism or our caplains and crews through voluntary programs. 
Crew Training 

The Point Club adopted the North Pacific Fishing Vessel Association's (NPFVOA) 
safety manual as soon as it became available. Each captain is encouraged to study and 
understand the safely procedures and requirements described in the manual. He. in 
turn, provides his crew with the opportunity to become proficient in the subject matter 
covered in the manual. 

Our "Club" started a voluntary hands on training program with the University of 
Rhode Island School of Fisheries in November of this year. The courses, taught by the 
URI staff, cover three days of classroom and practical lab experience in safety equip- 
ment and survival procedures, fitefighting and control, and providing for medical emer- 
aencies at sea. 

t consider a mandatory program. The captains and crewmen 
n training programs requiring active physical partidpaiion. 

Senator Chafee. Well, 1 want to thank you, Mr. McCauley. and 
everyone else. I just want to say I'm dedicated to geting this legislation 
passed, and I know that Dr. Nixon had a discouraging experience last 
year. But I'm going to plunge on. In the House they did get it out of 
the subcommittees, as you know. Now, of course, they got it out of the 
subcommittee last time, too. They got it out of the Kill committee and 
they got it out of the floor; but I'm much more optimistic that we now 
deal with the temporary injuries, and it's true that the bulk of the op- 
position, not the bulk, the opposition comes from the trial lawyers, and 
I just hope we can overcome their opposition and get this passed be- 
cause of the facts that each of you have mentioned and the tragedies 
that we see and Ms. Defrances' testimony and Peggy Barry's and others. 
So we're going to do the very best we can. That concludes the hearing. 
[Whereupon, at 12:40 P.M., the hearing was adjoumed.| 
(The following information was subsequently received for the record:] 

6J20 Marine View Drive NE. Tacoma. WA. November 28,1987 

Dear Peggy 

My wife, Maxine. and myself are deeply appreciative of the work you. Bob and 
others are doing to press for legislation dealing with conditions of safety on board com- 
mercial fishing vessels. 

As you know, our son. Greg, was lost at sea off Kodiak Island, November 5, 19B7, 
while on board the F.V. Uyak II. There were three other lives lost In this accident 
and two survivors. 

Maxine and I spent sufTicient time with the Marine Safety Detachment. U.S. Coast 
Guard. Kodiak (Lt. Sam Bromley) and the National Transportation Safety Board. 
WASHington. D.C. (Chester Szychtinski). both of whom investigated the sinking of the 
Uyak n. and also with the two survivors of the accident, the Skipper {Br^an Van 
Velkenburgh) and a deckhand (Brad Talbot), to be given the following mformation: 

1. The Uyak I!, a boat of 112 feet (or 130 feet, depending on the standard used for 
measurin?), in a calm sea, went from an upright to an upside-down position in less 

2. The ultimate factor which caused the accident was a flooded lazerette. Concerning 
the lazerette, we were told it was flooding with water and being pumped several limes 
each day: that the warning system on the lazerette had been disconnected on a 
previous sailing: that the engineer, who perished in the sinking, had requested a new 
alarm system but was refused: and that the Skipper of the vessel was unaware the 
lazerette was being pumped several times daily, and unaware the alarm system had 
been disconnected. 

3. We were told other factors which had impact on the accident were: 



A. Structural changes were made to the vessel without a stability test These struc- 
lural changes included changes being made to the position of the trawl winches: 
changes made to the reel (gantry): and the out-riggers had been cut olT. 

B. The twin engine vessel had one engine out at the time of the accident 
Concerning this mallunction we were told the boat had a history or both fuel system 
and engine problems, and one possible explanation given for this was some of the fuel 
tanks had rormerly been sea-water balasi tanks. 

4. Concerning poor safety conditions on board the Uyak 11. we were told: 

A. The escape hatch in the crews quarters (where Greg Itept his personal survival 
suit) was covered in plastic and dog-wedged in. making it impossible to open by hand. 

B. The fish hold covers could not be bolted down to be water tight. 

C. The first life raft reached by the survivors was upside down and not properly in- 
Hated. When the survivors pulled a rope on the life raft in an attempt to upright it. 
the lope tore the liferafl and it was thus inoperable. 

My wife and I know that fishing in Alaska is dangerous. Our son. who had been a 
conunercial fisherman out of Kodiak since 1979. also knew of the danger. As a result, 
be had his own survival suit on board, and according to the Skipper of the Evie. for 
whom he had worked for several years, was a very safety conscious fisherman. And yet 
his life was lost, we believe because of a lack of safety conditions on the boat, which 
conditions he was (1) unaware, or 12) unaware until the vessel actually sailed, but then 
it was too late. 

We know there is no way we can bring our only son back to life again, but we also 
know we must do something so that the lives of other fishermen will not be so need- 
lessly lost. We know accidents can occur, but we overwhelmingly believe this accident 
would never have occurred if even basic safety measures on board had been met by 
those responsible for this vessel. 

We are thus joining you. insisting from our legislators, laws which will govern the 
safety of commercial filing vessels. There must be licensing of vessels, owners and 
Skippers. It must become unlawful for a boat to have structural changes without a cer- 
tificate of stability. Every boat must be periodically, stringently checked to ensure basic 
safety measures such as life preservers (survival suits in Alaskan waters), operable life 
rafts: adequate, working alarm systems: and properly fijnclioning machinery and equip- 
ment, including the engines. 

I hold or have held both and aircraft pilot license and an automobile drivers license. 
By law 1 am responsible for both the vehicles of transportation I own or use. and for 
my actions as I use them? In similar manner, both the owners and Skippers of com- 
mercial fishing vessels must be made responsible by taw concerning both their vessels 
and their actions. Anything less, concerning aircraft and automobiles has been accepted 
as inunoral and antisocial. We believe it is time to enforce similar standard upon the 
ownership and operation of lishing vessels. We will persist in insisting for such laws 
from our legislators. 

Thanks again for the work you are doing In this area and especially for the support 
you have given us in this time of deep grief Our prayers are for you 

With a thankful heart, 

Don Klingenberg, 

Statbment op Pbooy Baiikv 

My name is Peggy Barry, and 1 atn grateful for the opportunity to appear before 
this group. 

Our involvement in fiahing veeeet safety b^an in the Bummer of 1985. Our son 
Peter, a junior in college, died that August when the Western Sea, a TO-year-old 
wooden purse-seiner on which he had a eummer job, sank near Kodiak, Alaska. The 
skipper, Peter, and the other four crewmen were all lost. 

We will never know exactly why the Western Sea sank, but facta concerning the 
condition of the vessel began to appear from fellow fishermen who knew the boat, 
from those who had serviced the vessel; and from a former member of the crew— the 
man whom Peter had replaced. From them we learned that there was rotten plank- 
ing, painted to appear safe, that at least one hatch cover was loose; that it had a 
hand-operated bilge-pump which was in use every three hours around the clock; and 



that it had a heavy diesel-powered akiff lashed above decks, contributing to its insta- 
bility. The veasel had no liferaft, no survival Buits. and no EPIRB (emergency posi- 
tion indicator radio beacon). The final — and most wrenching^information came 
from the Coast Guard's report, which concluded that the captain's body, when it 
was recovered several weeks later, still had traces of cocaine in it. 

It became clearer and clearer to us that, while death at sea has alw^ been a 
threat to fishermen, something was wrong. Our son was not a victim of the sea; he 
was a victim of negligence. He was the victim of an unsafe workplace — a workplace 
made unsafe by the individuals involved; permitted by an industry unwilling to 
interfere; and accepted by a government which demands adherence to regulations in 
every other industry 1 can Uiink of— but not in commercial fishing, the most dan- 
gerous industry in the country — seven times as dangerous as industry as a whole, 
and twice as dangerous as mining, the second most lethal. 

In three years of hearings on fishing vessel safety and insurance there has been a 
great deal of testimony, much of it repetitious, from lobbyists and industry groups. 
What is missing is the testimony of the men on the boats: the crewmen, not the 
owners, who risk their lives and health with every voyage. We have learned that 
frank testimony of this sort is hard to come by because the crewman who calls for 
new mandatory safety requirements is likely to be, at best, unpopular in the indus- 
try, and at worst, unemployable. 

We have been contacted by a number of professional fishermen who want to tell 
their story but fear being blackballed if they do so. One such person who talked to 
us a few months ago described the unbelievably dangerous condition of a large fish 
processor he was hired to skipper on the West Coast. Nearly a half century old, it 
had no automatic bilge pumps or high wator alarms to warn when the constant 
leaks became critical. None of their navigational equipment, neither gyro or mag- 
netic compass nor either of the two Loran position finders worked properly. There 
were no updated charts on board. One of the anchor winches was frozen and inoper- 
able and the other anchor chain was nearly rusted through. Fuel to be transferred 
to fishing boats was unsafely and illegally stored. And here was a large vessel which 
was supposed to sail through open and stormy waters with a large crew of what 
amounts to cannery workers, then to anchor on the Aleutians and service a fleet of 
fishing boats. When the skipper refused to take the boat out without further re- 
pairs, he was fired. When we asked him to describe his experiences publicly, he re- 
gretfully declined because, he said, he would never get another job in the industry. 
So 1 urge you to be a little skeptical when you are told by representatives of fishing 
boat owners that they represent "the crewman on the boat." 

I'd like to tell you about one such man: Just before Thanksgiving, we received a 
phone call from Don and Maxine Klingenberg in Tacoma, Washington. It was the 
first of many talks we've had. We may never meet the Klingenbergs, but they feel 
as close as family. On Nov. 6th— just a month ago — the fishing vessel Uyak II sank 
off Kodiak, Alaska, with their son Greg and five others aboard. There were two sur- 
vivors. The Klingenbergs went to Kodiak and spoke with the two survivors, the 
Coast Guardsman in Kodiak, and the NTSB investigator. I'd like to quote from their 

"The Uyak II ... in a calm sea, went from an upright to an upeid&down posi- 
tion in less than one minute. 

'The ultimate factor which caused the accident was a flooded lazerette ... it 
was flooding with water and being pumped several times a day . . . the warning 
system had been disconnected . . , the engineer, who perished in the sinking, had 
requested a new alarm system (from the owners) and been refused . . . 

"Structural changes were made to the vessel without a stebility test . . . including 
changes in the position of the trawl winches and the gantry , . . and the out-riggers 
had been cut off, 

"The twin engine vessel had one engine out . . . 

"The escape hatch in the crew's quarters (where Greg kept the survival suit 
which he had bought for the trip) was covered in plastic and dog-wedged in, making 
it impossible to open by hand. 

'The fish hold covers could not be bolted down to be water ti^ht. When the survi- 
vors pulled a rope on the life raft in an attempt to upright it, the rope tore the 
liferaft and it was thus inoperable." 

Do you think there is anyone who could look the Klingenbergs in the face and tell 
them that their son was a victim of the sea?" 

But let's return to this part of Uie world— and an even more recent disaster: On 
Nov. 16th, the Coast Guard began searching for the fishing vesael lUlianet, a 65-fbot 


lobeter boat, which was due on or about the 16th, and which hadn't been heard from 
since the 10th. The captain, Christopher Dennis, was a R. 1. man, ao were moot of 
the crew of four. All that has been found was an emptjr liferaft with survival suita 
in it. What happened? Did it have an E^IRB aboard, wluch would have automatical- 
ly transmitted a diatreas signal? Ten long years ago, Man Finch Hoyt of Washing- 
ton, DC lost her son, Steve, off the shores of R.I. when his fishing vessel, the Lobsla I 
sank with the loes of all aboard. The Lobata I had all kinds of safety and surviv- 
al equipment aboard, but no EPIRB. The best guess concerning the fat« of the boat 
was that she was rammed by a vessel which had no intention of reporting it imme- 
diately. An EPIRB would have transmitted a signal instantly. Thanlu to a bill last 
year, EJPHtB's are now required equipment, though the regulation has yet to be 

Another local case concerns the Andrew and Allison, the fishing veSMl out of 
Point Judith which was lost last January. There is pretty good evidence to suggest 
that if the liferaft had been in proper working condition and if the crew hadhad 
the most rudimentary training in survival techniques, that more than the one survi- 
vor of that disaster would be alive today. 

Another heart-breaking R.I, case waa the loss of Vinnie Hetherman, from the 
deck of the Joyce Judith, in January of 1981. As you will hear from Janice De- 
Frances, his fiancee at that time, he actually died within sight of his shipmates — 
and they didn't know what to do. How can this happen, again and again? 

We firmly support S. B49, introduced by Sen. Cnafee and co-sponsored by Sens. 
Kerry and Adams. We support it because it contains those minimal improvements 
in safety which Could save so many lives at so little cost. Common sense tells us that 
fishing boata should not be allowed to operate without life rafts, emet^ency radio 
eauipment, survival suits, emer^ncy locator beacons and other survival equipment 
whidi would give the crew of a sinlung vessel at least a chance to live. 

But we beUeve that Consrese should do mor« for safety then S. S49 calls for. The 
House version of the same Dill has been amended to mandate the first stei« towards 
liceneins of operators and inspection of processing vessels. From the b^inning we 
have called for immediate licensing of operators, as was accomplished with the tow 
boat industry in the late ISTOs. We believe that owners ought to be required to train 
crews in the use of on-board safety equipment and conduct emergency drills. And 
we believe that vessels ought to be inspected, either by the Coast Guard or hy pri- 
vate underwriters or surveyors, with particular attention to stability. The National 
Transportation Safety Board's recommendations go considerably further in this di- 
rection, and we believe that their objective, unbiased advice should weigh heavily in 
CongreMional del^rations. 

One of the encouraging developments of the last year is that no one argues 
against new safety r^ulations — neither the Coast Guara nor the Trial Lawyers nor 
the vessel owners nor the consumer groups. What is controversial is the issue of 
compensation for injured seamen, whi«i caused the defeat of a safety and insurance , 
bill in the last Congress. At present there is a n^otiation in progress between the 
Trial Lawyers and the House staff, with the aim of producing a compromise by 
spring. We hope that a compromise can be forged, but it may well be that the issue 
of compensation and limita on liability will never be resolved to the satisfaction of 
the lawyers on the one hand and the ooat owners on the other. If no solution is in 
sight by spring, we — the Ban^, the Klingenbergs, the Hofers, Bob Darling, Pete 
Zimny, Mary Hoyt, Jani(» deFVances, the growing list of the bereaved— urge you to 
move ahead to stop the needless toll of deaths in this nation's most datigerous indus- 
tiy. We beg you to seriously consider dropping the compensation portion of the bill 
(litle I) and to go forward with the safety portion of tne bill (Title ID on its own 

In conclusion, I'd like to read a paragraph from a letter we received from Don 
Klingenberg earlier this week: 

"We know there is no way we can bring our only son back to life again, but we 
also know we must do something so that the lives of other fishermen will not be so 
needlessly lost. We know accidents can occur, but we overwhelmingly believe this 
accident would never have occurred if even basic safety measures on board had been 
met by those responsible for this vessel, 

"We are thus joining you, insisting (on getting) from our legislators, laws which 
will govern the safety of commercial fishing vessels. There must be licensing of ves- 
sels, owners, and skippers. It must become unlawful for a boat to have structural 
changes without a certificate of stability. Every boat must be periodically, stringent- 
ly checked to ensure basic safety measures such as life preservers (survival suits in 


Alaskan waters); operable life rafts; adequate, working alarm aysWnu; and properly 
functioning machinery and equipment." 

Each of the names I have cited represents a shattered family. How many more 
names will there be next year, because action wasn't taken in time? 

Thank you. 


MAR 221988 
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