SEATTLE – Federal research vessels have located the Destination, the Seattle-based crab boat that went missing Feb. 11 along with six crew, on the bottom of the Bering Sea off the coast of Alaska.
The crew was heading out to fish for snow crab when their boat went down on a cold day off St. George Island in the Pribilofs.
The sunken vessel was found northwest of St. George resting on its port side. It was identified through underwater sonar surveys conducted by two National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration research ships, according to a joint Thursday release from the Coast Guard and NOAA.
“The first survey, conducted April 30 and May 1 by a Kodiak-based ship that does fisheries research, found what appeared to be the Destination. A second sonar survey used for charting the sea bottom was conducted July 8 and 9 by the Ketchikan-based Fairweather. That operation determined the sea-bottom wreck was the Destination.”
The confirmation is based on the characteristics of the vessel – the length, the beam, the shape of the pilot house and the fact that there were crab pots on board, Jonathan Shannon, a NOAA spokesman, said Thursday.
Later this month, the Coast Guard icebreaker Healy will head to the site and use a remotely operated vehicle with a camera to investigate the wreck.
Coast Guard divers, able to descend to depths of 150 feet, also may get into the water, according to Alanna Miller, a spokesman for the Marine Board of Investigation, which beginning Aug. 8 will hold hearings in Seattle about the vessel’s demise.
Images collected this month will be presented during the Seattle hearings.
“The Marine Board appreciates NOAA’s help in locating the wreckage of the FV Destination” said Cmdr. Scott Muller, chairman of the Marine Board that will look into the causes of the accident. ”The vessel location is an instrumental piece of our investigation.“
The Destination had a veteran crew aboard, and carried gear on deck when it disappeared early on a Saturday morning.
No May Day radio calls were picked up from the crew.
But a signal from EPIRB – an Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon – was set off. Searchers in February were able to find buoys, a life ring and other debris. The results of the February search helped to pinpoint the area where the survey ships, during their summer research season, should focus the sonar.
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