Offshore InjuryBlog

Search for Missing Crew Ends—Captains Mourn Loss

On February 11th, an alert went out from the Destination to the Coast Guard transmitting their position using the Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB). The Destination was a 95-foot fishing vessel with a 6-man crew operating in the infamous waters of the Bering Sea. Aircraft was sent out to locate and rescue the crew, but they only found the EPIRB, a life ring, some buoys, and other minor equipment.

In two days, over 20 searches were coordinated and deployed by the Coast Guard, but the search effort was stopped on February 13th. Any subsequent investigation will not have many leads or evidence to push the investigation forward. The Coast Guard had issued a warning regarding Saturday’s freezing weather and the risk of ice formation, but experienced captains like the Destination’s are used to dealing with such conditions.

The sinking of the Destination is the deadliest tragedy to occur in the Bering Sea in over 20 years.

Fellow Captains Mourn the Loss of Good Men

Captain Johnathan Hillstrand, a crab fishing captain who knew the Destination crew for decades, offered his condolences to the crew’s family. He also commented on the unique difficulties of the previous fishing season. The Deadliest Catch viewers may recognize Hillstrand as one of the captains who've been made famous for their work in the Bering Sea. He, as well as other crab fishing captains in the Bering Sea, offered their condolences alongside the Coast Guard.

While the Destination was not featured on the show, the ship did the same risky work as any crew shown on film. Many of the show’s captains knew and cared about the men aboard the missing ship. Some of them had been friends with the captain for 25 years, knowing him as a good man, an excellent seaman, and an experienced captain. He was regarded as a good leader under pressure, who has helped other captains navigate their way out of tough situations.

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