Two More American Seafoods Factory Trawlers Hit by COVID-19

File image courtesy ASC

Published Jun 5, 2020 8:57 PM by The Maritime Executive

American Seafoods Company has announced additional cases of COVID-19 aboard two more of its catcher-processor trawlers, the American Triumph and the Northern Jaeger. Testing revealed 25 positive cases between the two vessels. The ships ordinarily carry about 130 crewmembers each. 

The American Triumph and Northern Jaeger are currently in port at Bellingham to offload their catch. A third vessel, the American Dynasty, had an outbreak resulting in 94 positive cases (86 at the time of her arrival in Bellingham and eight more afterwards). The Dynasty has since relocated to Seattle and her crew have moved into quarantine housing administered by King County. 

“On the Northern Jaeger, one crew member reported feeling ill on-board last week and was transported to the hospital where they have tested negative for covid-19. The crew member is in the hospital recovering from their illness,” said ASC in a statement June 3. 

Before the three vessels sailed in May, ASC required crewmembers to undergo a five-day quarantine period and a COVID-19 lab test. The company has since extended the pre-quarantine period to 14 days, a spokesperson told NPR. 

The crew of the Northern Jaeger and American Triumph will be quarantined in Bellingham, according to the Whatcom County Health Department.

The outbreak aboard American Dynasty prompted Trident Seafoods to temporarily close its processing plant adjacent to the Bellingham pier where the Dynasty berthed, IntraFish reported. There were no known instances of direct contact between shoreside personnel and the ship's crew, but Trident and the operator of Bellingham Cold Storage (BCS) have undertaken additional precautionary measures in order to minimize risk. 

The American Seafoods outbreaks arrive as Alaska's summer fisheries are getting under way, raising concerns that the precautionary measures taken to keep COVID out of Alaska's remote fishing ports may not be adequate. On June 3, eleven seafood plant employees in Whittier tested positive for the disease. Additional cases have been reported among fishery workers in Anchorage, Kodiak Island, the Kenai Peninsula and Unalaska.