Wife defends LeConte chief mate

Letter to the editor

Posted: Thursday, June 17, 2004

I feel compelled to respond to the article on KINY's Web site regarding the termination of my husband. I find it horrific that the Alaska Marine Highway System didn't bother to contact my husband, Wil Petrich, to let him know that he had been terminated before this article was published. During the investigation of the ferry LeConte's grounding the Coast Guard asked for a rest/work schedule. It was determined that my husband only was able to get, at best, 13.5 hours of sporadic sleep during a 72 hour period in order to get the work done that the state required of him.

It is beyond comprehension that AMHS considers this amount of sleep adequate to do a good job at anything, let alone one of such importance. AMHS said this is not an event that happened because of overwork. I fail to understand how AMHS can continually and consciously put the lives of so many people in the hands of crew that has so little sleep.

My husband and many other masters, mates and unlicensed crew have brought this very issue up many times with top AMHS management, only to be rebuffed time and time again. My husband is the most safety-conscious man I have ever met or sailed with and continues to be.

The effect that this incident has had on this man is unimaginable. Both of these men have impeccable safety records and after so many years of employment with AMHS, I am appalled at the way both of these men have been treated. I am confident in stating that under normal circumstances, i.e. eight hours of uninterrupted sleep daily, this incident would never have occurred.

Finally I want to thank all current and former crew members, masters and mates that have sailed with Wil Petrich for all the emails and cards of support.

Melanie Petrich

Coupeville, Wash.

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