Fishing is a dangerous business. Crewmen essentially have two goals, return safely after each season at sea and make as much money as possible. This orange survival suit is displayed in a humorous manner on the deck of the Deadliest Catch crab boat, the F/V Sea Star of Seattle, WA while berthed at Fishermen’s Terminal in Ballard. While the display may look funny, the purpose is anything but, it is life saving. The best way to stay alive while working on board a fishing boat is to stay out of the water.
Some fishermen are lost overboard due to some type of accident and in those cases their survival is an immediate crisis because crewmen are not required to wear these suits while working. But in the case of the vessel capsizing or sinking, these suits save lives. The CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) regulates the type, number and ease of access of suits to optimize the safety of each fisherman on board vessels. It is essential for each crewman to wear a survival suit to battle both hypothermia and drowning. This neoprene suit provides protection against both hazards. If forced to abandon ship, it provides thermal protection against hypothermia and assists with flotation against drowning.
Survival suits are over-sized, so that crewmen can put them on quickly over the bulky clothing they wear while working. In the event of an emergency, crewmen are required to be able to suit up and abandon ship in less than one minute. Survival drills (according the the CFR) are required participation for all crew members at least once a month. The suits extend the survivability for crewmen for several hours, hopefully long enough for the U.S. Coast Guard to arrive and pluck them from the rough and frigid sea.