Coast Guard releases report on cutter fatality

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by Your Alaska Link News Team

A Coast Guard investigation says equipment failure, improper placement of a crewman and a Bering Sea swell contributed to the crewman's death on a rescue mission in southwest Alaska.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Travis Obendorf died Dec. 18 from injuries suffered five weeks earlier on the 418-foot Cutter Waesche (WAY'-shee).

The Waesche on Nov. 11 prepared to tow a disabled fishing boat to port and but first planned to ferry fishermen to the cutter using one of the cutter's smaller boats.

Obendorf rode ahead of the small boat's center console because the cutter had problems mechanically securing a capture line.

Investigators say the small boat reached the cutter's stern notch but a large swell shoved the bow under a capture net. The net slammed Obendorf into the center console.