Articles Posted in Vessel Sinkings

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A Casualty Investigation into the sinking of the Coastal Reign will be conducted by the United States Coast Guard.  The Coastal Reign capsized on Saturday while crossing the Tillamook Bar.  Two crewmen were lost in the tragedy.  The Investigation will examine the facts and circumstances that may have caused the 38-foot crab vessel to sink, with a view to making recommendations about accident prevention in the future.

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The Warrenton based crab boat Crystal Reign sank while crossing the Tillamook Bar on Saturday, February 20, 2021.  One of four crewmen rescued from the sinking vessel has now died and another crewman remains in critical condition. Due to heavy weather conditions, the USCG was reportedly monitoring the Crystal Reign from a watch tower as the vessel crossed the bar. Coast Guard rescuers saw the 38-foot crab boat overturn in heavy surf.   News accounts report 51-year-old Todd Chase was lost in the accident.   The death of the crewman and loss of the vessel will be investigated.  Fishing on the Washington and Oregon Coast mains one of the most dangerous jobs in the world.  Federal Maritime Law governs safety on crab fishing vessels such as the Crystal Reign.

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New information is being reported relating to the sinking of the Scandies Rose on New Years Eve.   Sadly five crewmen are now lost and presumed drown. The Coast Guard has identified the missing crewmen as including the vessel Master, Gary Cobban and his son David Cobban. Also among the missing are crewmen Arthur Ganacias, Brock Rainey and Seth Rousseau. The two surviving crewmen were identified as Dean Gribble and John Lawler.

New reports indicate the vessel was heading into gale force winds and was experiencing icing conditions. Icing on vessel of this type can cause added weight and move the vessel’s center of gravity upwards exposing the vessel to loss of stability. The Captain of the Scandies Rose had called friends via satellite phone in the hours before the sinking indicating the vessel was icing and had taken on a list. According to the news reports the Captain did not seem concerned about the icing conditions and was looking for shelter from the storm conditions. Icing conditions are frequently encountered by crab fishing vessels such as the Scandies Rose.

The Coast Guard has indicated they will be further investigating the incident. The Coast Guard casualty investigation will attempt to determine the cause of the sinking and to provide information about how sinkings of this type may be prevented in the future.

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The Alaska crab boat Scandies Rose sank Tuesday night in the Gulf of Alaska.  Search and rescue efforts to find five missing crewmen has been suspended by the Coast Guard.

The Scandies Rose sent a May Day message around 10:00 P.M. on Tuesday indicating they were in need of emergency help. Coast Guard helicopter crews were dispatched to help the seven-man crew of the Scandies Rose.  The helicopters located two Life rafts from the vessel approximately 170 miles southwest of Kodiak. Weather conditions at the scene were described as 40 mile per hour winds with seas of 15-20 feet Two crewmen in survival suits were hoisted from one life raft, the second life raft was empty. The surviving crewmen were taken to Kodiak Hospital for medical assessment.

The 130-foot-long Scandies Rose is a well-known Alaska Crab boat home ported in Dutch Harbor.  Reports indicate the Scandies Rose is managed by Mattsen Management LLC officed in Seattle and owned by Scandies Rose Venture LLC with an official address of Bremerton Washington.

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The Alaska crab fishing vessel Scandies reportedly sank in the Gulf of Alaska late Tuesday night. Two crewmen have been rescued from one of the vessel’s life rafts, and the search and rescue efforts are on for five missing crewmen. The two rescued crewmen have been taken to Kodiak Hospital where they are reportedly recovering from the sinking.

Few details about the sinking are currently known. A mayday message was received from the vessel around 10:00 P.M. and Coast Guard helicopters raced to the last known location of the vessel. Weather conditions were reported to be 40 mile per hour winds with waves of 15-20 feet.   The Scandies Rose is a well known Alaska Crab boat home ported in Dutch Harbor Alaska.

Additional information will be posted here as further details are made available. The Alaska crab fishing industry remains one of the most dangerous jobs in the world.


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Three commercial fishermen lost their lives Tuesday when the MARY B II capsized while crossing Oregon’s Yaquina Bay Bar.  In heavy weather the Yaquina Bay bar is one of the most dangerous bars on the west coast. At the time of the incident sea conditions were reported to be 12-14 waves.  News report indicate that the MARY B II had reportedly asked the Coast Guard for an escort across the bay.  The vessel subsequently sank while crossing the bay.  Attempts to rescue the crewman failed.  One crewman was rescued by a good Samaritan vessel; however, he was unable to be revived.  Two crewmen including the vessels captain washed ashore. Lost in the accident are Joshua Porter, James Lacey and Stephen Biernacki. The accident came following more than a month’s delay in the opening of the commercial crab season.  Heavy winds and seas prevented many vessels from retrieving their pots on the first days of the season.

Further details relating to the capsizing are unavailable at this time.  Commercial fishing in Oregon and Washington remains extremely dangerous for crewman battling high winds and large seas.  Smaller vessels are at more risk during heavy weather conditions.

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Reports have now confirmed Kevin Soule has died in a tragic crab fishing accident on Willapa Bay.  Soule was reported missing by his wife, Heather, on May 19thwhen he did not return home from crab fishing as scheduled. Soule was reportedly fishing alone aboard the 40-foot crab boat KELLI J.  An extensive search lead to the discovery of the sunken vessel on Friday.  The sunken boat was discovered by Sherriff’s personnel in approximately 40 feet of water three miles northwest of Oysterville. Soule body was discovered by divers working to salvage the sunken KELLI J.

The circumstances and cause of the sinking of the KELLI J are unknown.  The sunken vessel was located in an area of Soule’s crab pots and buoys.  Some local fishermen have speculated the vessel possibly sank as a result of winching up on a stuck crab pot. The accident occurred as the dungeness fishing season was winding to a close in Willapa Bay.

The Nahcotta based KELLI J was owned by Shoalwater Seafoods LLC.  Reports indicate that the vessel was equipped with an EPIRB, however, the electronic locating device did not activate.  The accident has struck a terrible blow to Soule’s wife and two young daughters.

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Four crewmen were rescued from a life raft Sunday night after the F/V MT Tamgas capsized 12 miles off the Oregon Coast.  The captain of the MT Tamgas radio issued a mayday call reporting his vessel was capsizing and the four crewmen were abandoning ship into the vessel’s life raft. A Coast Guard helicopter rescued the crewmen and transported the crew to Tillamook Bay for emergency medical assessment.  One of the crewmen was reported to be suffering from symptoms of hypothermia. The facts and circumstances of the capsizing are unknown at this time.   Vessel documentation indicates the 54-foot long MT Tamgas is a steel hulled vessel built in 1966 and owned by Travenshek Fisheries.  The vessel is home ported in Warrenton, Oregon.

The commercial fishing fleet in Washington and Oregon has recently experienced an increasing number of fishing vessel sinkings. Fortunately, the Coast Guard has been there to rescue many of the crews of these vessels.  However, vessel safety starts with a properly maintained vessel, and a vessel fully equipped with safety equipment, and a properly trained crew. We are thankful the crew of MT Tamgas was rescued from a very dangerous situation.

Johnson Beard & Trueb PC are maritime lawyers who represent fishermen injured fishing in Oregon, Washington, and Alaska.  Their experience includes handling commercial vessel sinking cases such as the Aleutian Enterprise, Alaska Ranger, Arctic Rose, Lady Cecelia,  Sara Jo, Nesika and many others.

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The Alaska Ranger sank in the Bering Sea on March 23, 2008 resulting in one of the Coast Guard’s most extensive investigations into the cause of a sinking of a commercial fishing vessel. Owned by the Fishing Company of Alaska the Alaska Ranger was a 185-foot long catcher processor and carried a crew of 47 fishermen. Five crewmen lost their lives when the vessel sank, and many of the 42 surviving crewmen spent hours in the pitch black freezing water before being rescued in one of the Coast Guard’s most heroic efforts.

The Coast Guard and National Transportation held public Coast Guard Casualty hearings in an attempt to determine the cause of the Alaska Ranger’s sinking. Multiple expert and witnesses testified at the hearing, including Rodney Lundy, the vessel’s assistant engineer. Lundy, a critical witness, was the assistant engineer on watch at the time the vessel began to take on flooding in its engine room.

The Seattle Times has extensively covered the cause and circumstances surrounding the Alaska Ranger sinking. The Times is now reporting on the ten-year anniversary of the vessel sinking that Lundy is now disclosing new critical information that was withheld from his testimony during the hearings in 2008. The Seattle Times reports that Lundy now claims he complained to the Alaska Ranger’s Japanese fish master about nets being stacked on deck around the engine room vents. Lundy reportedly claims that as the vessel sank the nets stacked around the starboard engineer room vent prevented him from closing the vent and allowing seawater to down flood directly into the engine room. According to the Seattle Times report: Lundy says two Fishing Company of Alaska officials, at different times, told him to keep quiet about the problems he had trying to close the vent. The officials identified by Lundy were unavailable to provide comment to the Seattle Times reporter

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On Wednesday, the Coast Guard rescued five fishermen from a sinking fishing vessel off the coast of Washington. The 87-foot commercial fishing vessel Sunnfjord radioed the Coast Guard for help when they were in danger of sinking due to flooding. The five crewmen had put on survival suits and were prepared to abandon the vessel. The Coast Guard dispatched four motor rescue boats and a helicopter to aid in the rescue of the fishermen. The Coast Guard was able to arrive on the scene and rescue the crewmen before the Sunnfjord sank. All crewmen are reported safe and were transported to Neah Bay for further evaluation. The cause of the Sunnfjord sinking is unknown and under investigation. Early reports indicate the vessel was unable to control progressive flooding in the engine room. The vessel sank approximately six miles west of Cape Alva.

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