September 8 2014


This is Fish Radio. Stephanie Mangini.  Hatch and door monitors are now available for fishing boats. More after this –


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More than half of all fishing fatalities come from vessels going down. For example, the sinking of the Alaska Ranger and Katmai, the  12 men that died all  stemmed from flooding through open hatches. That highlighted the need for a system that provides immediate status of all openings aboard fishing boats.  To the rescue: a simple monitoring system on doors and hatches with inputs displayed in the wheelhouse.


“The hatch door monitor takes feeds back from the door sensors that separate water tight compartments in the bowels of the vessel. If the boat is experiencing flooding  the captain can look at this green board display and see what the status is of each of the doors that are separating the water tight compartments”


Chelsea Woodward is a NIOSH engineering technician with commercial fishing safety program.NIOSH is the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, a research unit.


“So these sensors give the feed back to the green board .  there is a display in the wheelhouse that has a red light showing if the door is open, a yellow light if the door or  hatch is closed but not secure and a green light if the door is both closed and secure.”


The monitors were field tested by the fishing vessels Lily Ann and Gladiator during several seasons in the Bering Sea and are now available to the fleets at Wapato Engineering in Oregon.  Another life saving device that will be ready soon is a monitor for slack tanks, which can be partially full of fish, crab or water and really upset the stability of the boat.


“What happens is if you have this free surface effect on the liquid moving back and forth, the roll period changes on the boat and it’s hard for the boat to right itself, especially in rough seas. So it’s important to know what the status of those tanks are in order to maintain a stable boat. “


Currently, boats use a mounted float switch in the tanks Woodward say, or the crew checks the tanks manually.


“You can think about the amount of debris that can hang those float switches up if you have fish in that hold, it is a constant problem.”


The new monitor is far more secure.


“This slack tank monitor uses a different type of sensor that is mounted in the engine compartment near the tank pumps. There is no issue with the float switch sticking either in an on or off position because those switches are not needed.”


The slack tank monitor will soon be available – also in the works is a flooding monitor for the lazarette, the aft most compartments in a boat where the through holes for the rudder and propeller shaft are located.


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