On New Year’s Eve, the 130-foot crab fishing vessel Scandies Rose sank 170 miles southwest of Kodiak Island while delivering crab pots for the start of the winter season. Of the seven crew members, five are missing and presumed dead. The Coast Guard received a distress call at around 10 p.m., arrived around 2 a.m., and searched the area for 20 hours using four Jayhawk helicopters, a cutter, and two airplanes. The two survivors, John Lawler and Dean Gribble Jr., were spotted in a life raft and rescued, showing only slight signs of hypothermia. Another life raft was spotted but on closer inspection was found to be empty. The five missing crew members are Captain and Co-owner Gary Cobban Jr., David Lee Cobban, Arthur Ganacias, Brock Rainey, and Seth Rousseau-Gano.
According to a statement from Gribble, the crew was facing 20-foot seas, 40-mph winds, and ice. Spray will often freeze on deck in those types of conditions, adding a large amount of weight to the vessel and reducing stability. The cause of the sinking is still not known and is under investigation by the Coast Guard and National Transportation Safety Board. Dan Mattsen, who co-owned the Scandies Rose with Gary Cobban Jr., has stated that he is cooperating fully with investigators, and it is not known yet if the Coast Guard will hold a Marine Board to investigate the sinking.
Commercial fishing is listed as one of the most dangerous professions in the U.S., according to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health. In a video, Gribble stated that he went from “sleeping to swimming” in about 10 minutes. He and Lawler were able to put on survival suits, which float and provide some protection from hypothermia, before being swept overboard by a wave. They managed to swim to one of the two life rafts that were released when the ship went under.
A Facebook Fundraiser and two separate GoFundMe pages for the victim’s families have been set up at the time of this writing. The Facebook Fundraiser was established by Marissa Albaugh and Deb Rhoades and has raised $48,000 at the time of this writing, while one GoFundMe page (bit.ly/2NLpbpN) has raised $4,000 of a $10,000 goal and the other $4,672 of a $15,000 goal. The first GoFundMe was established by Hailey Engstrom and Lukas Engstrom, the children of William (WE) Engstrom, who was the deck boss on the Scandies Rose for 10 years. A second GoFundMe was established by the family of Seth Rousseau-Gano (bit.ly/2NGRJkc).
Photo: Jeff Pond