Popular immersion suits pulled off shelves, some fishermen likely carrying defective suits on board

Close-up of defect on Survitec immersion suits. Glue attaching the zipper to the neoprene shell does not adhere well.

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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 this year has been different. 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 1st cautioning sailors and vendors to look carefully at immersion suits made by Survitec. After inspection, Kodiak Marine Supply pulled out their whole remaining inventory – about six suits in total.

The Imperial Immersion Suit by Survitec. The USCG says the survival suit may have a serious defect. (photo: Survitec Group)

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

The defect involves a particular patch of glue that is meant to adhere the suit’s waterproof zipper to the neoprene shell of the suit. The defect could allow freezing seawater to enter the suit, rendering it unsafe. The Coast Guard is erring on the side of caution with these suits, especially because most have been manufactured very recently.

Kodiak Marine Supply has already sold between 20 and 30 of these suits- the Coast Guard requires fishermen to have survival suits on board. As soon as the defect became apparent on July 1st, they pulled the suits off of shelves. Clay says they’re offering refunds. But it’s too late for some fishermen, who are already chasing the red salmon run in Bristol Bay.

“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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