U.S. Coast Guard officials have postponed a public hearing that is part of a larger investigation into the sinking of the F/V Scandies Rose and loss of five of its seven crewmembers in order to protect the health of those who would be involved in the hearing during a pandemic.
U.S. Coast Guard Cmdr. Greg Callaghan, chair of the Marine Board of Investigation, said the board will use this delay to evaluate alternatives, gather additional information and continue the work of drafting a thorough and accurate report.
The hearing was to have taken place in Seattle from Sept. 8-18.
The focus of the investigation is the tragic New Year’s Eve sinking of the 130-foot crab fishing boat from Dutch Harbor, whose last known position was 170 miles southwest of Kodiak Island. Two crew members were rescued and the search for the other five crew members was suspended on Jan.2. Dan Mattsen, a partner in the fishing boat, which was managed by Mattsen Management in Seattle, told the Seattle Times that the vessel was loaded with crab pots for the start of the winter fishery. Rescue crews dispatched after the Scandies Rose issued a Mayday call found themselves battling 60 mph winds and near zero visibility, but managed to spot and rescue two surviving crew members in a life raft.
The Coast Guard said the decision to delay the hearing was made for the safety of the investigative team, witnesses, and families and to comply with federal and state travel restrictions to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
A Marine Board of Investigation, the highest level of investigation in the Coast Guard, aims to identify probably causes of marine accidents and makes recommendations to prevent future accidents. Once the investigation is completed the board will issue a report to the commandant with a timeline of events, established facts, an analysis of probably causal factors, board conclusions and safety recommendations.
The National Transportation Safety Board is participating in the investigation alongside the Coast Guard and will produce an independent report of its own.
Investigators are still seeking assistance from the public in gathering any information regarding the vessel and crew. Coast Guard officials said all information is considered significant and beneficial, including photos, emails, texts or other communications with any members of the Scandies Rose crew. Information may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.