Fishing captain cited after ‘near miss’ with Columbia River ro-ro 

An apparent “near miss” between a commercial fishing boat and a roll-on/roll-off (ro-ro) cargo ship on the Columbia River near Astoria, Oregon, has yielded violations against the smaller vessel’s captain and owner.

The incident involving the 587-foot Grand Race and the unidentified 48-foot fishing vessel happened on Nov. 29 near buoy No. 8 in the Columbia River navigation channel, the Coast Guard said in a news release. The outbound fishing vessel abruptly crossed from the Oregon side of the channel to the Washington side without notice or sound signal, the service said. 

“In doing so, (it) cut across the bow of Grand Race, creating serious risk of collision,” the Coast Guard said. 

The service issued a notice of violation to the vessel’s owner and captain for negligence while operating in conditions of restricted visibility, and for failing to maintain a proper lookout. The Coast Guard declined to identify the mariner or the vessel due to an ongoing investigation, according to spokesman Michael Clark, who is based in Seattle.  

The pilot aboard the Panama-flagged ro-ro repeatedly hailed the fishing boat on VHF channels 13 and 16 but got no response. The pilot boat Astoria ultimately caught the fishing captain’s attention by shining its spotlight at the vessel.  

Additional details on the incident were not available. The vessel was apparently working in the Dungeness crab fishery. 

“Fishermen haven’t even started pulling pots and retrieving their catch, and we have already had a ‘near miss’ that could have resulted in multiple casualties. No matter how long you have been fishing, please don’t get complacent,” Lt. Carl Eschler, chief of the investigations division at Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Portland, said in a statement. 

Penalties for infractions of this kind run from $5,000 for a first offense up to a maximum penalty of nearly $35,000. It was unclear if the captain had prior violations, Clark said.