Coast Guard Releases Final Action Memo for FV Destination
The U.S. Coast Guard released the fishing vessel Destination Marine Board of Investigation report on Sunday along with the Final Action Memo, which is the Coast Guard Commandant's response to the report and its safety recommendations.
The Destination disappeared with all hands on the morning of February 11, 2017, while under way from Dutch Harbor to St. Paul. Her EPIRB activated after 0600 hours and alerted the authorities to her sinking, but no mayday call was received. SAR units located her debris field and a sheen, but no sign of her six crewmembers. Her wreckage was later found just off St. George Island, about 200 nautical miles northwest of Dutch Harbor.
The Coast Guard Marine Board of Investigation determined that the initiating event occurred when the Destination transited past the leeward and sheltered side of St. George Island and altered course to starboard into the hazardous seas off Dainoi Point. Subsequent events include the vessel’s abrupt loss of speed, maneuverability and heading shift, which allowed boarding seas to flood, capsize and sink the vessel.
The primary causal factors that directly contributed to the casualty include: 1) the vessel’s unsafe stability conditions due to the carriage of heavier crab pots that exceeded the weight used in the stability instructions, 2) additional weight and stability stress from bait loaded high on the vessel, and 3) excessive ice accumulations from freezing spray, and 4) downflooding from the open number 3 hold access hatch.
Other causal factors include the captain’s failure to: 1) load in accordance with the vessel’s stability information book, 2) prevent excessive icing accumulations from the prevailing freezing spray conditions and 3) secure the number 3 hold access hatch while transiting.
Also contributing to the casualty was the owner’s failure to select a qualified individual to perform tests or calculations necessary to evaluate the vessel’s stability and update the stability instructions to reflect heavier crab pots and other alterations to the vessel. Accordingly, the owner failed to provide the captain with accurate information to maintain the vessel in a satisfactory stability condition.
The report recommended that the Commandant conduct a targeted oversight audit on all commercial fishing vessels subject to the relevant stability requirements. However, the Commandant, Rear Admiral John P. Nadeau disagrees. “There is not sufficient evidence in this report to conclude additional oversight is needed across the entire fleet of commercial fishing vessels.”
The report also recommended changes to icing regulations to specifically require owners to ensure the qualified individual includes within the stability instructions the weight and thickness of assumed ice used within the stability calculations. Also, when vessels operate under freezing spray forecasts that the stability instructions should indicate the vessel may experience icing conditions that exceed the vessel's stability and that captains shall consider delaying departure from port or seek protected waters.
The Commandant disagreed with this recommendation indicating that the relevant requirements should be general in nature focusing on the overall ease of understanding and use of the instructions rather than prescribing detailed requirements for their specific content. “This is to provide maximum flexibility for owners and qualified individuals to determine how the instructions are conveyed taking into account the unique issues that apply to an individual vessel, the personnel who will be using the instructions and its anticipated operating conditions. The stability instructions should include conditions of icing where it is reasonable that it will be encountered.”
The report and memo are available here.