February 24, 2017
The United States Coast Guard has announced they will convene a Marine Board of Investigation into the sinking of the Alaska crab fishing vessel Destination. Six crewman remain missing as a result of the February 1, 2017 disappearance of the Destination. An emergency locator beacon first alerted the Coast Guard that the Destination was in trouble. No mayday message was received from the vessel. Search and rescue efforts provided few clues as to the cause of the vessel’s disappearance. All that was located in the area of the EPIRB was an oil sheen, life ring from the vessel, buoys and tarps. Sea and weather conditions in the area suggest that the vessel may have experienced freezing ocean spray conditions. Icing conditions can lead to vessel stability problems.
The Marine Board of Investigation will gather evidence relating to factors that may have contributed to the incident. The Marine Board may subpoena records and take sworn statements from witnesses. Past crewmen will be interviewed. Typically in past casualties involving Alaska fishing vessels the investigations have focused on maintenance and repair of the vessel including any alterations, additions or subtractions to or from the vessel that may have impacted the vessel’s stability. Weather and sea conditions will be examined to determine the possibility that icing conditions may have played a role in the loss of the vessel. The vessel’s stability will be analyzed and the vessel’s stability report will be reviewed. An important issue will be how the vessel was loaded with pots and gear, and its ability to dump gear quickly in the event of citing conditions.
One goal of the Marine Board of Investigation is to gather evidence to determine what steps can be taken to improve fishing vessel safety. The findings and conclusions of the Marine Board of Investigation must be reported to the Coast Guard Commandant within one year.