Maine is probably best known for its rugged coastline, along which there are several ports. The main ports in the state are those in Portland, Searsport, and Eastport, but there are also several minor ports dotting the coastline as well as a few inland in places like Bucksport and Bangor. The Maine Port Authority runs the major cargo and container ports here, but there are also other important maritime industries in the ports like commercial fishing, ferries, and cruises.
Working in the Maine maritime industry is dangerous, as it is in any area, but workers here have to contend with rough winter waters and cold weather as well as the usual hazards from cargo, cranes, vehicles, and ship accidents. If you work in the maritime industry here, you have a risky job. You could be injured in a workplace accident and be unable to work for a while. If that happens to you, let a Maine maritime lawyer help you figure out your next move. You should be able to get money to cover doctors’ bills and to make up for your lost income, but doing so isn’t always easy without the expertise of a lawyer who has studied and practiced maritime law.
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The Ports of Maine
The Maine Port Authority is responsible for managing the state’s three largest ports at Portland, Eastport, and Searsport. The coast of Maine is rugged and the weather can be brutal in the winter, but the Port of Portland is well protected from the worst of rough waters and weather and remains ice-free all year. Along with shipping and cargo this port supports recreational boats, fishing boats, ferries, and cruise lines. It is the largest port in New England and the second largest port for oil on the east coast.
Right on the international border with Quebec is the Eastport Port Authority. It is a small, but important port with two tugboats, two terminals with berthing space for ships up to 900 feet long and a U.S. Customs office. Recreational boats, commercial fishing boats, and even aquaculture facilities call this northern port home. Major exports from Eastport include wood pulp and dairy cows.
At the head of the Penobscot Bay is the Port of Searsport, the second-largest deep water port in the state. The port handles all kinds of cargo and includes specialized piers for dry cargo and for wet cargo. Crude oil is an important cargo here and this is also the location of the start of a major oil pipeline. Along with cargo shipping, Searsport has space for recreational and commercial fishing vessels.
Maine’s Maritime Accidents
Maine’s ports may not be the biggest or busiest in the country, but they are still dangerous places to work. The waters off the coast are also dangerous here and both longshoremen and seamen in the area face many hazards on the job. Maine also has a long history of maritime activity, which means accidents have been numerous. Some accidents occur in the ports while others occur out at sea. Commercial fishing, an important industry here is the most hazardous of all maritime industries.
One example of such dangers occurred in February of 2012 when a fishing vessel sank off the coast of Maine. There were only two crew members on the vessel at the time and they were both working on draining water from fish tanks when the accident happened. A pipe broke and the boat began to flood. The captain and deckhand were unable to control the flooding and the boat went down ten nautical miles of the coast. Luckily both people were rescued and were uninjured in the incident, but it could have been much worse and with a tragic ending.
Another common source of accidents in any port area is a collision. When ships are coming in and out of ports, it can get crowded and difficult to navigate. Just one small error can lead to a crash, a ship running aground, or even a capsizing. In 2013 an oil tanker crashed into the Mildred Long Bridge connecting Maine and New Hampshire and investigations found that a crucial component in the ship had not been replaced and could be blamed for the accident. Thankfully no one was hurt in the incident and no oil was spilled, but the damage to the bridge cost millions of dollars to repair.
Legal Resources for Maine Maritime Workers
Accidents like these always have the potential to be more tragic and to cause injuries and even deaths. If you work in the maritime industry here in Maine you face these hazards every day. Fortunately there are laws in place to ensure you get adequate compensation if you are hurt on the job or money for your family if you are killed. Federal laws like the Jones Act and the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act are there to protect seamen working on ships and the people working in ports if employers refuse to pay up after an accident.
If you are ever injured in your maritime work, it’s important to rely on a seasoned professional who knows these laws backwards and forwards. Maine maritime lawyers are ready and available to help guide you through the often-complicated and time-sensitive processes of filing claims, avoiding missing deadlines, starting lawsuits, arbitrations, and even going to trial. Let these experts help you so you can get everything you deserve after a life-changing accident.