Factory trawler suffers "uncontrolled" engineroom fire off the Washington coast

will be interesting to find out more about how this occurred and more importantly, how it was fought

[B]Onboard fire at sea hits close to home[/B]
Bruce Buls
May 21, 2013

I’ve got my Arctic Storm hat on today. Literally. It was given to me by my next-door neighbor, Eric Wiechmann, one of the captains of this 314’ trawler/processor that fishes for groundfish in the North Pacific and Bering Sea.

I’m wearing the hat as a symbol of my concern for the condition of the Arctic Storm, which yesterday suffered an “uncontrolled” engine room fire about 30 miles off the coast of Washington state while engaged as a mothership in the Pacific whiting fishery.

Ultimately, the vessel’s halon system reportedly extinguished the fire and 78 of 120 people on board have been evacuated to Good Samaritan vessels that were standing by. But Eric, who is running the boat this trip, is still onboard, of course, waiting for a tug to tow them into Aberdeen, Wash.

According to the Coast Guard, no one was seriously injured or killed. Thank goodness for that.

We should also thank training and advanced preparation for the unscathed condition of the men and women onboard. I know that when he is at home, Eric frequently heads off to Seattle for training to maintain his license and treats safety very conscientiously.

In the June issue of WorkBoat magazine, "On the Water” columnist Joel Milton argues that new rules for STCW certification that require more basic safety training refresher courses is a good thing. “Things change, and the technology, equipment and techniques for firefighting, water survival and related activities evolve accordingly,” he wrote. “People also lose unused skills.”

I’m anxious to hear Eric’s story of what happened yesterday and what it was like to spend the night in a dark boat while drifting at sea. But the good news is that the losses are only material and financial, which isn’t to minimize them, but to appreciate that no one was badly injured or killed.

Hey, props on the new avatar. My brother and I wore out a VHS tape, or two, of that fine film…reckon we once could recite it word for word, sound effect by sound effect. Thread-jacked, but necessary.