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Inaccurate Stability Instructions, Ice Accumulation Led to Fatal Sinking of F/V Scandies Rose

NTSB isssues 7 Safety Recommendations from its investigation into the Scandies Rose sinking.

The National Transportation Safety Board has determined the probable cause and issued seven safety recommendations related to the fatal New Year’s Eve sinking of the fishing vessel Scandies Rose.

The 130foot crab fishing vessel Scandies Rose sank December 31, 2019, 2.5 miles south of Sutwik Island, Alaska. The vessel was en route from Kodiak, Alaska, to fishing grounds in the Bering Sea when it capsized and sank, killing five crew members whose bodies were never found. Two others were rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard following the accident.

According to the NTSB, the Scandies Rose likely accumulated between 6 and 15 inches of ice on surfaces exposed to wind and icing during the final voyage. The added weight from ice accumulating asymmetrically on the vessel and the stacked crab pots on deck, raised the Scandies Rose’s center of gravity, reducing its stability and contributing to the capsizing, the NTSB said.

Although the crew loaded the Scandies Rose per the stability instructions on board, the instructions were inaccurate and as a result the vessel did not meet regulatory stability criteria and was more susceptible to capsizing, investigators found.

During a public board meeting held Tuesday, the NTSB determined the probable cause was the inaccurate stability instructions for the vessel, which resulted in a low margin of stability to resist capsizing, combined with the heavy asymmetric ice accumulation on the vessel due to conditions more extreme than forecasted.

The NTSB identified the following safety issues during its investigation: the effect of extreme icing conditions, lack of accurate weather data for the accident area, the vessel’s inaccurate stability instructions and the need to update regulatory guidelines on calculating and communicating icing for vessel stability instructions.

As a result of the investigation, the NTSB issued four recommendations to the U.S. Coast Guard, one recommendation to the North Pacific Fishing Vessel Owners’ Association, one to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and one to the National Weather Service.

The NTSB also reiterated two safety recommendations previously issued to the U.S. Coast Guard.

The safety recommendations seek more accurate stability instructions that realistically consider the effect of icing on crab pots and crab pot stacks, making the Ocean Prediction Center freezing spray website operational and requiring personal locator beacons for every member of a vessel’s crew.

“Commercial fishing is one of the most dangerous occupations in America, but it does not need to be,” said Chairman Robert L. Sumwalt. “The safety recommendations we issued and reiterated today, if implemented, will make commercial fishing vessels safer and will help mitigate the risks fishermen face in this occupation.”

Icing continues to be a factor in accidents off the coast of Alaska. The NTSB issued Safety Alert 18074 Ice Accumulation on June 20, 2018, reminding mariners to prepare for icing conditions and the actions to take to maintain vessel stability when icing occurs. The safety alert was issued following the NTSB’s investigation of the sinking of the fishing vessel Destination with the loss of all six crew members in February 2017.

Improve Passenger and Fishing Vessel Safety is an item on the NTSB’s 2021 – 2022 Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements. Commercial fishing vessels, which remain largely uninspected, continue to be a marine sector of concern. New standards are needed to address intact stability, subdivision and watertight integrity in commercial fishing vessels up to 79 feet long. Many fishing crews aren’t trained in stability management techniques or emergency response, and the NTSB has found that many vessels do not have proper lifesaving equipment, such as flotation devices and operational searchandrescue locator devices.

The complete accident report will be available in several weeks. The executive summary, including the findings, probable cause and safety recommendations is available at https://go.usa.gov/x6Gfr.

The public docket for the investigation contains more than 4,500 pages of factual information, including interview transcripts, photographs and other investigative materials and is available online at https://go.usa.gov/x6qfw.

The opinions expressed herein are the author’s and not necessarily those of News2Sea.

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