Coast Guard Launches Inquiry into Fatal Capsizing at Tillamook Bay Bar

Swells at the entrance to Tillamook Bay Bar (USCG file image)

Published Feb 24, 2021 5:38 PM by The Maritime Executive

The U.S. Coast Guard is launching an investigation into the capsizing of the crabbing vessel Coastal Reign, which capsized on the Tillamook Bay Bar on February 20. 

At about 1640 hours last Saturday, the Coastal Reign was crossing the bar when she turned beam to the swells and rolled over. A Coast Guard rescue boat was already stationed nearby to monitor the crossing, and its crew pulled two people from the water, including one who was unresponsive. A third survivor made it ashore to the jetty and climbed out of the water, and he was rescued by a helicopter aircrew. 

The body of the fourth and final member of Coastal Reign's crew was found by a boat team and recovered. The other unresponsive victim was flown to a hospital in Portland, but did not survive. 

The vessel herself remained afoat and briefly went aground near the entrance to the bar, according to local media. 

Family members have identified the victims as Todd Chase, 51, and Zach Zappone, 41, both residents of Warrenton, Oregon. GoFundMe pages have been set up to assist their loved ones. 

Coastal Oregon's bar crossings are notorious for their high swells, which are particularly dangerous for small vessels on inbound transits. At the time of the accident, the bar was closed to small craft but open to commercial fishing vessels. Rear Adm. Anthony Vogt, Coast Guard Thirteenth District Commander, has announced a formal investigation into the cause of the casualty. 

The opening of crab season off the Pacific Northwest coast has been particularly challenging this year, with three significant marine casualties reported off Washington on February 13 (in addition to the sinking on February 20).