Coast Guard Cutter Acushnet terminates commercial fishing vessel for safety violations

KODIAK, Alaska — The Coast Guard Cutter Acushnet terminated the voyage of the 77-foot commercial fishing vessel Topazfor a safety violation during a boarding 14 miles southeast of Cape Chiniak Thursday.

A Coast Guard boarding team from the cutter found the vessel master operating without any immersion suits available for the crew. The Coast Guard requires commercial fishing vessels to operate with immersion suits available for each crew member in appropriate sizes.

“This was a serious oversight by the crew of fishing vessel Topaz and could have resulted in a significant loss of life had it not been for the vigilance of the Acushnet’s boarding team,” said Lt. Kirk Fistick, operations officer cutter Achushnet. “We were happy to clear the violation upon returning to Kodiak where the survival suits were stored.”

The Topaz, a stern trawler, was conducting at test trawl to in an apporoved area to ensure all fishing gear was operational at the time of the boarding. All vessels are reminded that they must carry immersion suits at all times while underway.

The vessel’s crew was escorted by the Acushnet to the Kodiak port. After conducting an eight hour boarding the boarding team remained on board during the transit.

“The boarding team from the cutter Acushnet was able to inspect the survival suits that were waiting at the pier allowing the fishing vessel Topaz to get underway the next day,” said Fistick.

In addition to the termination the crew of the Acushnet boarded four other vessels in the Kodiak area Thursday.

The 213-foot Diver Class Patrol Boat Acushnet is based out of Ketchikan. The Acushnet it the last of the Diver Class of Coast Guard cutters. The Acushnet earns the title “Queen of the Fleet” for being the oldest commissioned cutter serving in the U.S. Coast Guard. The Acushnet was originally commissioned by the U.S. Navy as the USS Shackle (ARS9) in 1944 as a rescue and salvage ship. In 1946, the Acushnet, was commissioned as a Coast Guard Cutter. The Acushnet now serves as a medium endurance cutter in the Coast Guard fleet. She is the second Coast Guard cutter to bear the name Acushnet.

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