The U.S. Coast Guard will hold a formal public hearing to consider evidence related to the deadly sinking of the fishing vessel Scandies Rose.
The 130-foot crab fishing vessel sank on New Year’s Eve in 2019 near Sutwik Island, Alaska, with seven crew members aboard. Two were rescued from liferaft, but the search for five missing crew members was suspended after more than 20 hours and 1,400 square miles searched.
The hearing, which will take place beginning February 22, will focus on the conditions influencing the vessel prior to and at the time of the casualty. This will include weather, icing, fisheries, the Scandies Rose’s material condition, owner and operator organizational structures and culture, the regulatory compliance record of the vessel, and testimony from the survivors and others, the Coast Guard said in a statement.
The hearing will take place daily through March 5 at the Edmonds Center for the Arts, however due to Washington State COVID-19 pandemic restrictions and out of an abundance of caution, participation will be limited and coordinated in advance. The hearing will also be streamed live online.
Shortly after the incident, the U.S. Coast Guard convened a Marine Board of Investigation to look into cause of the sinking, including the cause of any deaths, as well as whether any laws and regulations were violated. However due to the pandemic, the public hearing portion of the investigation was postponed.
A formal Marine Board of Investigation is composed of a specially designated Marine Board Chairman, as well as several specialists and technical experts designated to assist. Investigations of marine casualties and accidents, and the analysis and conclusions made from them, will help identify appropriate recommendations to promote safety and prevent future marine tragedies.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is also conducting its own investigation of the accident and joins the Coast Guard in this fact-finding phase. The NTSB will analyze the facts to prepare and publish a separate report.
The U.S. Coast Guard reported it overheard a mayday call from the FV Scandies Rose at around 10 p.m. on the night of December 31, 2019, indicating the vessel had capsized and sunk off the coast Sutwik Island. Aircrews located two life rafts, including one raft that contained two survivors. The search for the five missing was eventually suspended on January 2.
The loss of the Scandies Rose marked the worst accident to hit Alaska’s commercial fishing industry since the sinking of the FV Destination with the loss of all six crew members in February 2017.
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