Coast Guard releases report for deadly crab boat sinking

SEATTLE (AP) — A U.S. Coast Guard report blames a crab boat's owner and captain for a fatal 2017 voyage in the Bering Sea.

The Seattle-based fishing vessel Destination went missing Feb. 11, 2017, off a remote Alaska island. The bodies of its six crew members have not been found. It was the worst Alaska crab-boat disaster in more than a decade.

The Coast Guard's 138-page document was made public Sunday after a private Saturday meeting that Coast Guard officials scheduled in Seattle for the families of the lost crew, The Seattle Times reported.

The report concluded the boat was overloaded when it left port; the captain set out in freezing spray with a fatigued crew that failed to remove a heavy buildup of ice on the hull and gear; and an open hatch would have allowed rapid flooding.

The vessel started to capsize within a matter of minutes, leaving the crew very little time to react, the report said.

The sinking prompted the Coast Guard to form a three-person marine board to understand what happened and make recommendations. It's the latest Coast Guard investigation into the fishing industry, where crew jobs rank as one of the most dangerous occupations in the nation.

Some family members questioned why the Coast Guard would not pursue criminal penalties against the boat's owners.

"Six people lost their lives," said Gayle Andrew, mother of crewman Darrik Seibold. "This is just not right."

A sonar image taken by the crew of a federal research vessel in the summer of 2017 located the Destination lying on its side more than 250 feet (76 meters) down on the ocean floor.

The National Transportation Safety Board also investigated and found that the accident was caused by the captain's decision to head out in hazardous conditions and then failing to have the crew combat ice buildup that made the boat top-heavy.