Trial begins for Alaska Juris sinking

The Associated Press

SEATTLE — A Coast Guard hearing is beginning into the sinking of the fishing vessel Alaska Juris.

The boat sank off Alaska’s Aleutian Islands in July, forcing the crew to abandon ship. All 46 crew members were rescued by good Samaritan ships, and there were no injuries. The two-week hearing begans Monday in Seattle.

Investigators are trying to identify factors that could have contributed to the ship’s sinking.

Coast Guard investigators also will be looking at the hull — as well as piping and valves — as they try to determine what caused the engine-room flooding.

“This is not supposed to happen,” said Cmdr. Michael DeLury, the lead Coast Guard investigator.

The Seattle Times reported the Alaska Juris was part of the head-and-gut fleet, a group of boats that catch and process fish in the North Pacific and that throughout the years have been involved in a series of serious accidents.

The vessel sank after a problem in the engine room led to flooding on board.

More than three dozen people are expected to testify, including crew members, Coast Guard inspectors and Alaska Juris maintenance personnel.

Investigators will also look into the effectiveness of a safety program the Coast Guard began a decade ago for this fleet.

That program includes a focus on training to help get crews safely off a ship in distress and requires equipment to help in an evacuation, according to Chris Woodley, a former Coast Guard safety official who helped launch the program and will testify this week.

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