Hearing to focus on why Seattle crab boat with six aboard sank

The Associated Press

SEATTLE — A hearing into what caused a Seattle-based crab boat with six people aboard to sink in the Bering Sea will focus on weather and human factors, as well as the stability of the fishing vessel before it went missing in February.

The U.S. Coast Guard Marine Board of Investigation opened its two-week hearing in Seattle on Monday into what went wrong with the commercial fishing vessel, Destination, which disappeared Feb. 11.

Coast Guard officers will hear testimony from the vessel owner, former crew and others as they piece together what caused the winter tragedy, The Seattle Times reported.

The Coast Guard received an emergency positioning signal from the 98-foot vessel northwest of St. George Island on Feb. 11. Searchers found the signal device, a life ring and buoys in a debris field, but no signs of its six crew members.

The vessel was owned by David Wilson, of Edmonds, and had a crew of skilled veterans. They included Capt. Jeff Hathaway, Larry O’Grady, Raymond Vincler, Darrik Seibold, Charles G. Jones and Kai Hamik.

Last month, federal research ships found the Destination in 250 feet of water off St. George Island.

The Coast Guard Cutter Healy used a remotely operated vehicle in late July to investigate the wreckage. Information from that deep-sea expedition is expected to be reviewed during the hearing.

“They spent about two days on top of the Destination,” Cmdr. Scott Muller, who will chair the Marine Board of Investigation, told The Times.

“There were some challenges. That part of the Bering Sea is particularly known for its treacherous currents.”

Investigators are expected to come up with a probable cause of the accident, and produce a final report that typically includes recommendations on how to make the industry safer.

The National Transportation Safety Board is conducting its own investigation and is participating in the Coast Guard’s hearing.

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