A memorial service Thursday remembered the six crew lost Feb. 11 when the Destination went missing in the Bering Sea en route to the crab harvest.
The owner of the Destination, the crab boat that went missing Feb. 11, said he had full confidence in the skills of the six lost crew, and that his own son was initially supposed to be part of that Bering Sea harvest.
“I have had a lot of sorrow in life but nothing like this,” wrote David Wilson, of Edmonds, in remarks read at a Thursday afternoon memorial service for the six lost crew.
“God only knows why something like this happens because I don’t know why these good men went down at sea. … The pain will never go away. Even though these men are gone, their memory will live on forever.”
Several hundred people attended the service for the six crew members: Capt. Jeff Hathaway, Larry O’Grady, Raymond Vincler, Darrik Seibold, Charles G. Jones and Kai Hamik. It was held at the Aurora Community Church of the Nazarene in Shoreline and was a celebration of their lives that included poetry and musical performances.
Pastor Erik Wilson Weiberg of Ballard First Lutheran Church read Wilson’s remarks, saying the boat owner was too grief-stricken to speak. In those remarks, Wilson wrote that “because of family circumstances,” his son ended up not being part of the winter crew.
The Destination was registered in Sand Point, Alaska, but based out of Seattle.
All those on board the vessel were skilled veterans, with Hathaway and O’Grady having worked on Destination for the past 23 years, according to Wilson.
One of the speakers at the memorial service was Dylan Hatfield, a former Destination crewman and brother of Seibold. Hatfied said his brother wanted to spend more time with his young son, and planned to make this winter his final Bering Sea crab season.
Hatfield called the crew the “best group of guys I have ever worked with,” and recounted his joy in meeting them in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, just before they headed out on Feb. 10 on their final trip into the Bering Sea.
As the Destination left port, it was carrying a load of pots, which would be set along the sea bottom to catch snow crabs. The next day, while still en route to the harvest grounds, the crew sought to traverse a tide-churned stretch of water off St. George.
Whatever went wrong appears to have happened fast.
No Mayday calls of distress were picked up by crews from other vessels.
An emergency locator-beacon — designed to to be automatically activated when a boat goes down — set off a signal at 6:15 a.m. 2 miles off the northwest coast of the island. Searchers who later responded found a debris field that included buoys, an oil sheen and a life ring from the boat.
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There are many risks in the crab harvest that unfold in a frigid sea that can serve up monster storms as well as freezing spray that — if not removed with baseball bats and other implements — can make a vessel top-heavy and more likely to capsize.
The 21st century has seen a major improvement in the fleet’s safety as the numbers of deaths plummeted from the 1990s.
The U.S. Coast Guard has convened a Marine Board, the highest level of inquiry, to investigate the loss of the Destination and its crew. That board, along with the National Transportation Safety Board, will look into what factors contributed to the accident and also examine the Coast Guard response.
In his remarks read Thursday, Wilson said, “We as fishermen all know the dangers of fishing, especially in cold weather, in the cold of winter. I am so filled with grief I can barely go on. Your sorrow is my sorrow.”