The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has issued seven safety recommendations after the fatal sinking of the fishing vessel Scandies Rose in December 2019. The Scandies Rose was en route from Kodiak, Alaska, to fishing grounds in the Bering Sea when it capsized and sank 2.5 miles south of Sutwik Island, Alaska. The Scandies Rose had seven crew members aboard, two were rescued by the US Coast Guard and five others were never found.
The added weight from ice accumulating asymmetrically on the vessel and the stacked crab pots on deck, raised the Scandies Rose’s center of gravity, reducing its stability and contributing to the capsizing.
Although the crew loaded the Scandies Rose per the stability instructions onboard, the instructions were inaccurate and as a result, the vessel did not meet regulatory stability criteria and was more susceptible to capsizing.
The NTSB determined the probable cause was the inaccurate stability instructions for the vessel, which resulted in a low margin of stability to resist capsizing, combined with the heavy asymmetric ice accumulation on the vessel due to conditions more extreme than forecasted.
The NTSB also identified the following safety issues during its investigation:
– the effect of extreme icing conditions,
– lack of accurate weather data for the accident area,
– the vessel’s inaccurate stability instructions and
– the need to update regulatory guidelines on calculating and communicating icing for vessel stability instructions.
As a result of the investigation, the NTSB issued four recommendations to the US Coast Guard, one recommendation to the North Pacific Fishing Vessel Owners’ Association, one to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and one to the National Weather Service. The NTSB also reiterated two safety recommendations previously issued to the USCG.
To the US Coast Guard:
1. Conduct a study to evaluate the effects of icing, including asymmetrical accumulation, on crab pots and crab pot stacks and disseminate findings of the study to industry, by means such as a safety alert.
2. Based on the findings of the study recommended in Safety Recommendation, revise regulatory stability calculations for fishing vessels to account for the effects of icing, including asymmetrical accumulation, on a crab pot or pot stack.
3. Revise Title 46 Code of Federal Regulations 28.530 to require that stability instructions include the icing amounts used to calculate stability criteria.
4. Develop an oversight program to review the stability instructions of commercial fishing vessels that are not required to possess a load line certificate for accuracy and compliance with regulations.
To the North Pacific Fishing Vessel Owners’ Association:
5. Notify your members (Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands Crabbers/Fishing Vessel fleet) of the specifics of this accident, the amount of ice assumed when developing stability instructions, and the dangers of icing.
To the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:
6. Increase the surface observation resources necessary for improved local forecasts for the Sutwik Island and Chignik Bay region in Alaska.
To the National Weather Service:
7. Make your Ocean Prediction Center freezing spray website operational and promote its use in industry.
Previously Issued Recommendations Reiterated in this Report
To the US Coast Guard:
Require all owners, masters, and chief engineers of commercial fishing industry vessels to receive training and demonstrate competency in vessel stability, watertight integrity, subdivision, and use of vessel stability information regardless of plans for implementing the other training provisions of the 2010 Coast Guard Authorization Act.
Require that all personnel employed on vessels in coastal, Great Lakes, and ocean service be provided with a personal locator beacon to enhance their chances of survival.
Download the synopsis from the NTSB’s report: Sinking of Commercial Fishing Vessel Scandies Rose