USCG investigating loss of local fishing vessel

POULSBO — The U.S. Coast Guard continues to investigate the disappearance of the 95-foot fishing boat Destination, believed to have gone down with its six-person crew in the Bering Sea northwest of St. George Island on Feb. 11.

Among those lost was Larry O’Grady of Poulsbo, the Destination’s engineer who had been fishing in Alaskan waters for close to 30 years, according to an earlier Kitsap Daily News report (www.kitsapdaily -man-reportedly-one-of-fishing-boat-crew-members-missing-in-alaska).

It’s reportedly the deadliest crab-boat disaster in the last 20 years, but hardly the first, according to Alaska Dispatch News.

In 1996, another Bering Sea crab boat, the Pacesetter, capsized in a storm in the same area, taking with it seven crew members.

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health statistics show that 73 crew members in the Bering Sea crabbing fleet died from injuries, falling overboard, or sinking in the 1990s.

The efforts to improve crew safety are recorded in the NIOSH 2016 report, “Assessment of Safety in the Bering Sea/Aleutian Island Crab Fleet” (

Changes in safety regulations and the fishing season reduced the human hazards. Between the 2005-06 and 2012-13 fishing seasons, there was only one fatal injury, according to NIOSH statistics.

Until the disappearance of the Destination.

The U.S. Coast Guard has convened a formal Marine Board of Investigation “charged with the responsibility of determining the cause or probable cause of this casualty,” according to a Feb. 7 memorandum from Rear Adm. Paul Thomas, assistant commandant for prevention policy who oversees three Coast Guard directorates, among the inspections and compliance.

The investigative board is chaired by Cmdr. Scott Muller of the Chief Inspections and Investigations Branch of the Coast Guard’s Fifth District. The National Transportation Safety Board will also submit a report, and the two agencies are expected to work together.

The investigative board is expected to submit its report within 12 months.