NEWS & NOTES

Passage Maker - - Contents - Editorial Staff

On June 28, 2018, the Na­tional Trans­porta­tion Safety Board (NTSB) pro­duced the fi­nal re­port on the cap­size and sink­ing of F/V Des­ti­na­tion, the crab ves­sel that dis­ap­peared last win­ter north­west of St. Ge­orge Is­land in the Ber­ing Sea, killing all six crew aboard. Last July, two NOAA ves­sels— Os­car Dyson and Fair­weather— as­sisted the U.S. Coast Guard dur­ing the search for the miss­ing boat. Dyson was able to nar­row the search field al­low­ing Fair­weather to ul­ti­mately pin­point the crab­ber in 256 feet of wa­ter us­ing the ship’s ad­vanced multi­beam sonar.

Des­ti­na­tion sank on Fe­bru­ary 11, 2017. No may­day call was made and no emer­gency bea­con was ac­ti­vated to sig­nal any prob­lem on board. Af­ter the ship was lo­cated, a U.S. Coast Guard ROV was de­ployed to take pic­tures for an in­quest fol­low­ing the ac­ci­dent.

For the re­port, the NTSB in­ter­viewed a num­ber of cap­tains who were op­er­at­ing in the area at the time. Fore­cast weather con­di­tions for the night in ques­tion sug­gested that strong north­east winds, low tem­per­a­tures, and build­ing seas would cre­ate dan­ger­ous freez­ing spray that would ac­cu­mu­late on decks dur­ing rou­tine crab­bing op­er­a­tions. Most cap­tains op­er­at­ing in the area felt com­pelled to ad­just their course of busi­ness, but there was no such ad­just­ment on Des­ti­na­tion. Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, sev­eral other boats had ac­cu­mu­lated sig­nif­i­cant amounts of ice, even at very slow speeds (1 to 2 knots), and one, the cap­tain of F/V Sil­ver Spray, de­cided that the fore­cast war­ranted hol­ing up at St. Ge­orge Is­land un­til con­di­tions im­proved.

An­other ves­sel in the area, F/V Po­lar Sea stopped four times for de­ic­ing ef­forts and in­di­cated to in­ves­ti­ga­tors that ice ac­cu­mu­la­tion lev­els were an “eight” (on a scale of 10). Ice ac­cu­mu­la­tion dur­ing the last few hours that Des­ti­na­tion re­mained buoy­ant were judged to be as high as 1.6 inches of buildup per hour. New­found­land’s Me­mo­rial Uni­ver­sity mod­eled the day’s sea and weather data to gauge the prob­a­ble ice buildup on Des­ti­na­tion that re­sulted in her cap­size and dis­ap­pear­ance. The model sug­gests that in such con­di­tions roughly 5,951 pounds of ice could have built up ev­ery 15 min­utes.

Adding to the is­sues of the weight of ice, an­other cap­tain in the re­port re­marked that, in his opin­ion, Des­ti­na­tion was car­ry­ing too many pots for the con­di­tions and that the boat looked over­bur­dened. The U.S. Coast Guard’s own Ma­rine Safety Cen­ter (MSC) con­ducted a sta­bil­ity anal­y­sis of the boat us­ing CAD-gen­er­ated mod­els from the boat’s 1992 re­build, which in­di­cated a num­ber of other pos­si­ble con­tribut­ing fac­tors in the sink­ing.

One of the po­ten­tial is­sues iden­ti­fied was that while the ves­sel’s sta­bil­ity in­struc­tions book­let listed each crab pot as weigh­ing 700 pounds, a pot re­cov­ered from the ship­wreck by the Coast Guard ac­tu­ally weighed 840 pounds. The un­ac­counted-for weight of all 200 pots ex­ceeded the ves­sel’s sta­bil­ity rec­om­men­da­tion by 28,000 pounds. Spec­i­fi­ca­tions also lim­ited the weight of bait held on board to just over 6,000 pounds, but shore re­ceipts point to bait amount­ing to nearly 20,000 pounds when the ves­sel first de­parted Dutch Har­bor. And lastly, the ship it­self had been mod­i­fied to in­clude a steel plate added to the bul­wark and a bul­bous bow as well as other mod­i­fi­ca­tions that to­taled about 3,366 ad­di­tional pounds. Not in­clud­ing the sub­stan­tial weight of ice ac­cu­mu­lat­ing on deck, the boat it­self was laden with in ex­cess of 45,000 pounds over the boat’s spec­i­fied sta­bil­ity load.

The MSC anal­y­sis states the im­pli­ca­tions of this over­bur­den­ing: “Ves­sels have neg­a­tive sta­bil­ity when their right­ing arm is less than zero ... with 4 inches of ice, the Des­ti­na­tion would have had neg­a­tive sta­bil­ity at a heel an­gle

of 18 de­grees, and with 7 inches of ice neg­a­tive sta­bil­ity at a heel an­gle of only 8 de­grees.”

The NTSB re­port sum­ma­rizes the find­ings of the MSC’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion, con­clud­ing that “pro­longed ic­ing con­di­tions adding weight high on the ves­sel, leav­ing it with a lower free­board and a de­creased right­ing arm (lower sta­bil­ity)” had likely caused the Des­ti­na­tion to cap­size in the high seas and winds it en­coun­tered that day. The NTSB fur­ther notes, “The AIS po­si­tion data that in­di­cated a rapid head­ing change as the ves­sel left the is­land’s lee sup­port this cap­siz­ing sce­nario.”

The NTSB re­port con­cludes that “the prob­a­ble cause of the cap­siz­ing and sink­ing of the fish­ing ves­sel Des­ti­na­tion was the cap­tain’s de­ci­sion to pro­ceed dur­ing heavy freez­ing spray con­di­tions with­out en­sur­ing the ves­sel had a mar­gin of sta­bil­ity to with­stand an ac­cu­mu­la­tion of ice or with­out tak­ing suf­fi­cient mit­i­gat­ing ac­tion to avoid or limit the ef­fects of ic­ing.” —JC

LAST RE­SORT PHONE CHARGER

Pow­ered by two 9-volt bat­ter­ies, the Emer­gency Phone Charger, can han­dle the du­ties of a pow­ered out­let for as long as the bat­ter­ies last (or as long as your sup­ply of 9v bat­ter­ies can go). In an emer­gency, this USB-pow­ered de­vice that looks about the size and shape of a cig­a­rette lighter pulled from your car, will han­dle all of the du­ties of mo­bile phone charg­ing if you have no other al­ter­na­tive. To charge, sim­ply con­nect the two sets of bat­tery leads (neg­a­tive and pos­i­tive) to fresh bat­ter­ies, and then plug in your phone to the USB out­let. There’s even a lit­tle blue LED to in­di­cate that the out­let is pow­ered enough to charge. —JC

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