Some fishermen likely have defective survival suits on board

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A close-up of part of a survival suit showing a seam separating
Close-up of the defect on a new Survitec immersion suit. Glue attaching the zipper to the neoprene shell does not adhere well. (Photo by Dylan Simard/KMXT)

Kodiak Marine Supply is a large department store on Kodiak’s dockside, selling just about anything one might find on a fishing boat. Normally, that would include survival suits — but not right now.

Jordan Clay is a sales representative at Kodiak Marine Supply. She says that her store got a call from the Coast Guard in early July.

“They did tell us to inspect and pull our suits off the shelf,” Clay said.

Kodiak Marine Supply stocks Jumbo Immersion suits, which are made by Survitec. The Coast Guard issued a warning on July 1 cautioning sailors and vendors to look carefully at immersion suits made by Survitec.

After inspection, Kodiak Marine Supply pulled out their whole remaining inventory of about six suits.

“Most of the boats prefer that suit over other suits,” Clay said.

The defect involves a patch of glue that is meant to adhere the suit’s waterproof zipper to the suit’s neoprene shell. The defect could allow freezing seawater to enter the suit, making it unsafe. Most of the suits have been manufactured very recently.

Kodiak Marine Supply has already sold 20-30 of these suits — the Coast Guard requires fishermen to have survival suits on board.

Clay says they’re offering refunds. But it’s too late for some fishermen, who are already chasing the red salmon run in Southeast Alaska.

“A lot of guys are keeping their stuff on their boats just to … for something. I mean, they can’t have nothing,” Clay said.

It’s unclear how Survitec is going to respond — Clay says she expects a refund to retailers.

Survitec has not responded to requests for comment.

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