Inaccurate stability instructions and ice accumulation led to fatal sinking of Scandies Rose: NTSB

The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has issued seven safety recommendations from its investigation into the sinking of fishing vessel Scandies Rose (IMO 7933529) in December 2019.

To the US Coast Guard it recommended that:

1. it should 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 [1], the USCG should 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. The USCG should revise Title 46 Code of Federal Regulations 28.530 to require that stability instructions include the icing amounts used to calculate stability criteria. 4. The USCG should 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 the NTSB recommended that:

5. it should notify its 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 (NOAA) the NTSB recommended that:

6. it should 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 the NTSB recommended that:

7. it should make its Ocean Prediction Centre freezing spray website operational and promote its use in industry.

The NTSB had previously issued a recommendation to the USCG that it should 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. (M-11-24) and 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. (M-17-45).

The incident began to unfold on December 31st 2019 at about 22:00 Alaska standard time when the USCG Communications Detachment Kodiak received a distress call from fishing vessel Scandies Rose. The vessel was en route from Kodiak to fishing grounds in the Bering Sea when it capsized about 2.5 miles south of Sutwik Island, Alaska, and sank several minutes later (IMO, January 8th 2020).

At the time of the accident, the Scandies Rose had seven crewmembers aboard, two of whom were rescued by the Coast Guard several hours later. The other missing crewmembers were not found and are presumed dead.

The Scandies Rose, valued at $15m, was declared a total loss.

According to the surviving crewmembers, the vessel had begun to encounter freezing spray and accumulate ice from 02:00 to 08:00 on the day of the accident.

By 20:37 on December 31st the captain of the Scandies Rose noted serious icing and a 20° starboard list. He was trying to seek shelter southeast of Sutwik Island, but when he changed course, the vessel’s list worsened.

At 21:55 a mayday call was broadcast.

The NTSB is expected to complete its final accident report in “several weeks” time, which will include rationale for conclusions, probable cause, and safety recommendations.

1979-built, USA-flagged, 105 gt Scandies Rose was owned and managed by Scandies Rose Fishing of Bremerton, Washington State, USA.