Reporter Hal Bernton has covered the Alaska fishing industry for decades. He describes the final voyage of the Destination, and the stories of its lost crew.
Two years ago this month, a Seattle-based crab boat, the Destination, sank without a mayday call in the Bering Sea, killing all six crew members.
It was a tragedy that shook a crab fleet that had operated in relative safety in recent years, when compared with the 1990s, when the industry regularly exacted a deadly toll. For the family and friends of the Destination crew, led by experienced skipper Jeff Hathaway, it remains a nightmare and a mystery.
On Episode 101 of The Overcast, host Daniel Beekman talks with reporter Hal Bernton about his examination into the fate of the Destination and its crew. His special report “No Return: The final voyage of the Destination” was published this week.
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Bernton has reported on the Alaska fishing industry for decades, dating back to his time at the Anchorage Daily News. He brings that experience to bear in the deeply reported series that looks possible miscalculations, including overweight crab pots, that may have led to the sinking.
The final-days narrative is interwoven with the stories of the crew members and their families, including Dylan Hatfield, who got his brother, Darrik Seibold, a job on the vessel. Dylan was not on the final voyage that claimed the life of Darrik.
In addition to the personal tragedy for the families, the sinking came as a shock to the entire Northwest crab fleet that had seemingly become much safer in recent decades.
“It was a real gut check for the industry that thought it had left behind a lot of the legacy of the earlier years when so many fishermen died,” Bernton says.
A report by the Coast Guard is expected in the next month or so. Those findings could lead to new safety rules, Bernton explains, such as more frequent inspections on the stability of the boats that can be jeopardized by icy buildup.
This episode was recorded at the Seattle studios of public radio 88.5 FM KNKX.
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