Tugboat Crew Escapes After Norton Sound Grounding

A tugboat crew safely escaped their vessel after it hit a rock on Norton Sound and began taking on water Friday, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Coast Guard spokesperson Petty Officer 1st Class David Mosley says watchstanders received a report at about 1:20 p.m. that the 70-foot tug Captain Hendren had run aground north of St. Michael.

The two crew members aboard donned survival suits, then got into a life raft which drifted ashore. They were picked up by residents of St. Michael to be warmed up, then treated for any potential injuries.

Mosley says the Coast Guard had ramped up for an active response, but stood down once the crew made it to safety.

Pollution investigators will contact the crew to determine how much fuel the Captain Hendren has aboard, as well as whether any response will be necessary to protect the local environment.

Crewmembers of vessels like the Captain Hendren are covered by the Jones Act and the doctrine of maintenance and cure.

Under the doctrine of maintenance and cure, where a crewmember is injured aboard the vessel, the crewmember is entitled to have their medical expenses (cure) and a daily stipend for living expenses (maintenance) paid by the vessel owner. Seamen are entitled to maintenance and cure regardless of whether vessel negligence contributed to their injuries.

Under the Jones Act, seamen who are injured due to vessel negligence are entitled to recover other damages such as for pain and suffering in addition to maintenance and cure.

If you are injured while working on a vessel, contact a maritime attorney to determine whether you are entitled to recovery.

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