Coast Guard Launches MBI for the Loss of the Scandies Rose

Scandies Rose (file image via social media)

Published Jan 24, 2020 7:55 PM by The Maritime Executive

The U.S. Coast Guard has launched a Marine Board of Investigation (MBI) to look into the loss of the Scandies Rose, the crab fishing vessel that went down in the Gulf of Alaska on New Year's Eve. An MBI is the Coast Guard's highest level of inquiry for a marine casualty, typically reserved for severe accidents with multiple loss of life. The National Transportation Safety Board is conducting a parallel investigation. 

On December 31, the Scandies Rose was under way off Sutwik Island, Alaska, headed west to start her Bering Sea crabbing season. At about 2200 hours, she listed and quickly sank. Five of her seven crewmembers were lost at sea, including the captain. 

According to survivor Dean Gribble, the Scandies Rose sank about 10 minutes after she took on a sudden and unusual list. The captain made a mayday call, which was received by USCG Air Station Kodiak. Gribble told KOMO News that he got his immersion suit on after a struggle with the zipper, and passed out suits to the rest. He was still calling to them to get out of the deckhouse when the vessel went down. Gribble and crewmate John Lawler managed to get to a liferaft that popped up from the sinking boat, and they waited in the raft for a Coast Guard helicopter to reach them. 

“It was surreal,” Gribble told KOMO. “A very beautiful moment. I don’t know how I can thank them enough. They’re really brave people to go out in those kinds of conditions.”

The cause of the casualty is under investigation, but the marine forecast for the waters off Sutwik Island that night called for heavy freezing spray. In icing conditions, crab pots stacked on deck can load up with extra weight quickly, potentially leading to capsize - a factor cited in multiple previous crab boat disappearances, like the loss of the fishing vessel Destination and her crew in 2017.