Day 4 — Scandies skipper respected but hard charging

Two men with intimate knowledge of the Scandies Rose and her crew headlined the fourth day of the ongoing inquiry into the ship, which sank during a winter storm south of the Alaska Peninsula on Dec. 31, 2019, killing five of seven people on board. The testimonies of Cory Fanning and Peter Wilson, both former chief engineers on the Scandies Rose, helped paint a more nuanced portrait of the ship and its crew.

Fanning, who worked on the Scandies Rose for several years until 2018, described the Scandies Rose as a “battleship” and a “Cadillac” and twice during Thursday’s testimony called it an “incredible fishing platform”. During his years on the vessel, he also developed a close relationship with four of the crew who died in the accident, including the captain, Gary Cobban Jr., and his son, David Cobban.

Cory Fanning, former engineer of the Scandies Rose, testifies at Coast Guard hearings on Feb. 25, 2021.

Cobban Jr., whose dad, Gary Cobban Sr., was also an Alaska fishing captain, emerged as an especially challenging figure, a highly regarded fisherman but ambitious to a fault. Both Fanning and Wilson described Cobban Jr. as a well-respected, hard-charging lifer, who was driven to be the best in the fleet, an impulse that could tax those around him.

“Gary had been around a long time, fishing his whole life, since he was 12 or 13 or something. Gary worked hard. The crew worked. He maybe pushed too hard sometimes. He wanted to be the best at what he did, whatever that was, and maybe at times that didn’t make the crew so happy, but he was an incredible fisherman,” Fanning said.

When asked if Cobban Jr. ever worked the crew to “harmful fatigue,” Fanning chuckled.

“A typical day on the Scandies was 20 hours. Most days we would run and haul gear for 20 hours and then take a six-hour nap,” Fanning said, adding he did not know how to quantify harmful fatigue.

One of the day’s more emotional moments came when the soft-spoken Fanning, speaking on a satellite phone with a delay from the wheelhouse of the Aleutian Mariner, choked up while talking about David Cobban. Fishing clearly did not come easy to the younger Cobban, but he had won the respect of his colleagues.

“David is tough for me to talk about,” Fanning said haltingly. “David had turned into a pretty solid deckhand. It took him a long time to get there. I think he was the only six-year bait boy in existence. But he finally came around.”

No one described his dad as a slow learner. Wilson, who worked on the Scandies Rose from 2008 to 2014 as the chief engineer, said the captain had a reputation for being hyper-competitive and that he wanted to win. Under the tutelage of Cobban Jr., Wilson learned the ropes and went on to captain the New Venture, which he has been running for seven years.

“Gary was always known as an awesome fisherman, and as I got to work with him, he was a great captain. We all have our sides. Gary was hard, but he was fair. If he asked you to do something he wouldn’t do himself, he would push. But he also knew when to back off,” Wilson said.

Cobban Jr. may have pushed it, but three separate witnesses on Thursday refused to question his judgement for sailing out of Kodiak on the night the ship went down, despite repeated questions from the Coast Guard board.

Oystein Lone is the captain of the Pacific Sounder and likely the last person to talk to Cobban Jr. via telephone. On the night of the accident, he was 200 miles away, on anchor on the other side of the Alaska Peninsula after spending the day dropping his pots. He was not surprised Cobban Jr. was making his way toward the grounds.

“There were boats ahead of him and behind him. It was getting to be that time of year where fishing starts, so I wasn’t surprised,” Lone said.

Lone talked to Cobban Jr. twice that night. The first time — likely a little after 8:30 p.m. — Cobban Jr. confirmed he was dealing with tough weather; winds howled at 60 to 70 knots, and the temperature sat at 12 degrees F. Cobban Jr. also told Lone he had 195 pots on deck and that ice had built up on his starboard side, causing the ship to list to around 20 degrees. About five miles away from the Sutwick Island during the first call with Lone, Cobban Jr. had planned to tuck into the lee of the island and get cover for his crew to safely break ice.

“We chatted about some other stuff. There was no urgency in the call at that time,” Lone said.

Lone had to switch over a generator, so he told Cobban Jr. he would call him back. When he did call him back — Lone thinks it was 9:58 p.m., not long before Cobban Jr.’s mayday call — the mood aboard the Scandies Rose had shifted dramatically.

“He was definitely very concerned at that point. I could hear it in his voice. There was fear in his voice,” Lone said.

Lone remembers Cobban Jr. saying that the list had worsened and “that he did not know how this was going to go.” Then Lone lost connection.

Lone estimated that night he had 6 inches of ice on the railings of his boat, and much of the Coast Guard’s questions on the day centered on icing and the reliability of stability tests, especially when ice and crab pots are involved.

The Coast Guard Marine Board of Investigation hopes to pinpoint probable cause in the accident and make recommendations that might improve safety for vessels in the North Pacific, especially when it comes to icing.

Lone said the Scandies Rose and the Destination before it have prompted fishermen to do some of their own work.

“We’re kind of looking in the mirror a little bit, all of us. We’ve taken some steps here to try to start some stability classes. It’s baby steps, but we’re trying to make some positive moves out of this and learn from it,” Lone said.

Through four days of the trial, Coast Guard and National Transportation Safety Board investigators seem to be developing a narrative of a ship that took on too much ice and began to list, which caused water to rush in somewhere, causing downflooding that sunk the boat quickly. The point or points of entry for the water are of particular interest to the board.

But Wilson, in one of the more candid moments of the day, openly doubted whether even such a thorough inquiry will turn up exactly what went wrong that night.

“I’m a captain entrusted with anywhere from two to five lives. And those lives are depending on me to bring a boat back, to see their families again. Gary was a captain, too. It’s just very unfortunate what happened here. We’ll never know the truth. We can all speculate, but the only people who really know what happened on the boat unfortunately are no longer with us,” Wilson said.

The tone of the day, which shifted between solemn and technical, got some air in the afternoon with the appearance of Dillion Gamby, a one-time deckhand on the Scandies Rose who narrowly avoided the incident.

Sporting a black button-down, a mohawk, and a subtle mustache, Gamby explained that he was the bait boy for red king crab on the Scandies earlier in 2019 and that his responsibilities included “doing everything he was asked to do.” He had signed on for the opie season — the trip that ended in tragedy — amidst warnings from the Scandies crew that is was a different kind of season: “intense, dangerous, and not a walk in the park.”

An incident while loading pots in the snow shortly before leaving, however, led him believe he was not cut out for it and decided to stay home.

Dillon Gamby, former deckhand on the Scandies Rose, testifies at the Coast Guard hearing on Feb. 25, 2001.

“I realized that if I go out there, there’s a chance I might not come back, or I might hurt others. I never feared the boat going down. The fear was of me falling off the boat, or hurting someone else,” Gamby said. — Brian Hagenbuch

Day 3 — Scandies Rose survivor Jon Lawler recalls sinking

“I worked on a boat called the Destination… I thought about those guys all the time,” said Scandies Rose survivor Jon Lawler in his testimony, on Wednesday, Feb. 25. “I used to always play this back in my head: How would I get out of a boat? You know you can’t get out of a boat when it’s upside down.”

The Dec. 30, 2019, trip had begun with three days of nonstop gear work, according to Lawler. They were bustling to switch the pots for what was likely a short pot-cod season before they moved on to catching opies. Lawler said they seemed to be in a hurry to get out, and that cod season was possibly why. The over-60 cod boats had had a short season the year before, starting on Jan. 1.

“The year prior to this, their season closed on the sixth of January,” Lawler said. “They only had enough time to get their gear out in the water, barely make a trip, and then they had to stack out again.”

So they loaded the boat with pots. Dan Mattsen testified that skipper Gary Cobban reported they had 192 pots onboard.

Survivor Jon Lawler testifies at the Coast Guard hearings on the Scandies Rose sinking investigation.

“I think it was pushing up over 200 a little ways,” Lawler testified. “From port to starboard, every spot was full there. Literally every square inch of that deck was pots.”

They had been working long days on the gear, and Lawler thought between the tired crew and the forecast, they’d leave the next day.

“You know we’d been working our asses off getting the boat ready. And then we heard the weather forecast. And I’m thinking, ‘Oh the boys are gonna have a bar night. We’re gonna go into town and get some beers because we’re definitely not leaving in that.

He remembered Cobban talking to the crew about the weather.

“We’re gonna run into some shit. And that shit’s gonna become a lot of shit. But make sure everything is tied down good.”

While they waited for the tide, Cobban reviewed safety procedures and equipment with the crew.

“It was just an eerie night, man,” Lawler said. “Gary [Cobban] made this comment about how you don’t leave the boat, the boat leaves you.”

He testified that Cobban had accidentally hit the emergency button on the EPIRB, but Lawler didn’t see a light, even though they were in a dark wheelhouse.

Clockwise from top left: captain Gary Cobban Jr., David Cobban, Seth Rousseau-Gano, Arthur Ganacias, Brock Rainey. Scandies Rose Facebook page

“I knew we were leaving into a storm, and it just didn’t feel right,” Lawler said. “Nothing about it felt right.”

They took turns on wheel watch, an hour on, he reported. He had been watching the movie “Ford vs. Ferarri” in his bunk and was about to nod off.

“And we were never listing a little bit at all. It was trim, good to go,” Lawler said. “But then all of a sudden, I rolled into my bunk. And this sheer terror comes over me. I knew something was wrong. So I ran upstairs. And I look at Gary, and I just go, ‘What the fuck’s going on? What’s going on?’

“And he goes, ‘I don’t know what’s going on.’ He says, ‘I think we’re fucking sinking.’ And I go, ‘No fucking shit we’re sinking.’

“And I’m just trying to figure out how did it go from nothing to the boat’s literally like leaving us now.

“I just started yelling because there was no alarm going off.”

Lawler yelled down to wake up anyone who was sleeping and remembered Dean being up there within seconds.

“Something clicked in my head that it wasn’t right,” Lawler said. “There was just white noise all around you, and pure panic. People were there. I couldn’t tell you who was who.”

“The only thing I do remember in that moment was the green suit’s the big one, and I need to move fast.

“Just muscle, muscle memory. I don’t know what it was, it was just fight or flight.

Crab pot experiment, a 1,000-pound pot on deck before ice. U.S. Coast Guard photo

“The people in the wheelhouse I could hear, ‘Oh god. Oh god. Oh god,’ over and over and over again, you know from other people around me. No one was using their words. It was just sheer panic.

“I think at one point, I did heard Gary [Cobban] say something about like, ‘I don’t know what to do.’ And I heard somebody say, ‘You need to call the Coast Guard now.’”

“As I’m getting my suit on, there’s people around me. I do remember looking up, and the throttles got pulled back on the boat. And then it just, it was downhill from there. The boat started going fast, like fast, after we lost that like forward momentum.

“And the one thing that’s burned in my brain that I can’t get rid of is I stood over Mr. [Brock] Rainey. The pitch of the boat was so steep, I was hanging onto the things the things that you hear shit crashing off, all the shelves.

“He grabs me by my suit, pulling on me, ‘Help me, Jonny! Help me!’ And I didn’t help him. He wasn’t even in his suit. He barely had his feet in. And I just knew I needed to leave the boat. I had to make that decision. I had to go. That’s what I did. I got up to the port door barely just climbing on things. And I went out, and the wind hit my face. I just kept telling myself in my head. I gotta get the suit on, gotta get outside.”

“I worked on a boat called the Destination… I thought about those guys all the time. I used to always play this back in my head: How would I get out of a boat? You know you can’t get out of a boat when it’s upside down.”

The 1,000-pound crab pot maxed out the 3,000-pound scale onboard after it was iced over. A panel of naval architects testified that IMO regulations do not account for ice inside of pots on a boat deck, only on the exterior surfaces of the stack. U.S. Coast Guard photo

“So I just had to get out. I got out. And I was outside, and still trying to get my zipper up. Couldn’t get my zipper up. And the wind was just howling out there. There was ice all over the rails. And I just remember hearing Deano [Gribble] yelling at me, ‘Jonny!… ‘What are we doing?’”

“And I go, ‘I don’t know what we’re doing. We’re going for a swim, that’s all I can say.’

“And I told him I couldn’t get my zipper up, and he started freaking out, trying to help me. But I just, I couldn’t help anybody. There was not enough time to help anybody. Everyone had to help themselves.”

Gribble suggested getting a raft, but Lawler was worried about getting hung up in the rigging.

“I was just expecting to go in the water. That’s all I knew. And I was hoping people were going to follow me out.

“No alarm was going off, like I said. That’s why I know Gary [Cobban] made that mayday call after I was outside, because the alarm was going off in the back of that mayday call. And the alarm didn’t start sounding finally until we listed hard enough over. So what my theory… is that, the mains, the auxiliaries, they lost engine oil pressure. And they started running away, and the stacks were blowing black smoke out. And then you just felt the whole boat shudder. Then lights out. And all you could hear was the ocean.

“You couldn’t really hear anybody inside anymore, which was the eeriest thing. Cause I think, you know, a lot of people were up on the high side with me. But when the boat listed over, I think they all just slid right down the floor and smashed into the wall on the other side. I still don’t understand why they didn’t go out the starboard door. There was an opportunity for everyone to get out. It doesn’t make any sense.”

“I sleep on it. I daydream about it. I play it back over and over and over again, trying to change it in my head,” Lawler said.

“From the time I left my bunk to the time I was in the water. I mean, I didn’t have a watch on me, but I would gauge 10 minutes we were in the water.

“Before we went in the water, we didn’t know we were going in the water. And that’s why I reverted back to what I said prior that you don’t leave the boat. The boat leaves you. Because there’s been stories like that of you guys [the Coast Guard] finding boats that are sitting there barely bobbing and no crew to be found. So I just stood on it as long as I could. I followed the boat around. I sat on the superstructure, crawled around to the port side. Put my hand in one of scuppers. And by then the water was halfway up my shins, towards my knees. And I heard Deano [Gribble] say, ‘Here it comes.’

“And I look up to the side, and this fucking wall of water just blew us off, and I didn’t have my bladder blown up. I was upside down, like a washing machine. Couldn’t breathe, I was sucking in seawater. And then finally… I was able to somehow calm myself down enough to where I could just loosen my body up and just breathe. Just try and catch any gasp of air I could get. And that’s, that’s all I have. I mean, I thought I was dead the whole time.

“The bow of the boat was up. You could hear it, too. I still hear it. You would think something that big wouldn’t be able to just get tossed around that hard. We had water somewhere. There had to have been water somewhere, because it went down so fast.

“It just sat up for a second and was bashing back and forth, and you could hear the steel,” Lawler said.

“I remember looking at the boat, paddling backwards, as hard as I could. Then one second, it just like a rocket, just down, gone. Nothing but silence, just me, the ocean. And I say the ocean like nicely, it was very violent that night.

“I was just accepting, acceptance at that point. I wasn’t going home. I mean the fact that raft showed up. I don’t know what to think about that.

“I heard Deano [Gribble] yelling at me. I barely had enough room to look over my neck, and there he was sitting in the raft. And I just couldn’t believe it.

“I got in it, and at that point. It was nice to know someone else was there.”

Lawler described using their flares, big seas and trying to talk to each other to prevent slipping away. He noticed the other life raft and kept hoping to see signs of other crew. On one of his checks, he saw a light and realized it was a Coast Guard helicopter.

“They were hovering over us, and that was the most beautiful sound I’ve ever heard in my life.”

Throughout Lawler’s testimony, it was clear he believed the sinking was at least exacerbated by downflooding.

“One thing I noticed on this boat was that the watertight door that separates the one part of the engine room to the next, where those voids were, was always stuck open. It was never dogged shut,” Lawler said. “I think I actually asked Art [Ganacias] about that, and he said they always leave it open. And that could have probably bought us some time, too, just having that dogged, in the downward flooding.”

Earlier in the day, Paul Zankich, Bud Bronson and Jonathan Parrott, comprised a panel of naval architects testifying on vessel stability, icing and gear loading.

The panel discussed the failure of International Maritime Organization guidelines to account for ice accumulation inside of pots on a Bering Sea boat deck.

“We really don’t and didn’t have any good information on how a crab pot ices, so we used the IMO criteria, which says use the outside of the crab pot,” said Bronson. “And a crab pot isn’t really a box. It’s this sieve that collects ice all through it.”

Iced over Bering Sea boat used as evidence of uneven icing on fishing vessels. U.S. Coast Guard photo

The panel members referred to the IMO’s “shoebox” analogy, which assumes ice collecting on vertical and horizontal surfaces but not inside the webbing because the standards are general and are not written specifically for that kind of gear on deck.

“We understand how the IMO came up with the standards they have for icing,” Bronson added. “But the crab fishery in the Northwest Pacific is significantly different than anywhere else.”

Zankich specifically pressed for better data specific to pot gear.

“If you’re a crabber, you have to believe the Coast Guard standards, you have to believe the IMO standards, you have to believe your naval architect,” he said. “All of these three beliefs need review in this inquiry, because we are the naval architects who are asking our owners and operators to believe. And we rely upon the Coast Guard standard to believe and the IMO standard to believe. And honestly, I don’t believe those standards now.”

Regulations account for as much as 6/10 of an inch of ice accumulation on vertical surfaces and 1.3 inches on horizontal surfaces — and uniform accumulation on those surfaces.

“Crab pots… can accumulate ice on the inside of the pots,” said Parrott. “And if you’ve got wind and weather coming from a certain direction, the pots on that side are going to be heavier, are going to accumulate more ice in it than pots on the other side.”

After this testimony, Capt. Callaghan called for a brief recess to introduce some new evidence.

He then presented an image of a single 1,000-pound pot on an otherwise empty deck. The Coast Guard had reportedly experimented with the pot, spraying it with a hose to weigh it out after it was iced up.

They were not able to get an accurate weight because the iced up pot maxed out their 3,000-pound scale. And that pot is not completely iced in.

Parrott made the point that better data on pots is critical for the Bering Sea crab fishery but also because pot fisheries are expanding in Alaska. — Jessica Hathaway

Day 2 —“The Scandies Rose was built to last”

Day two of the two-week inquiry into the crabbing vessel the Scandies Rose focused on welds and weather as the Coast Guard Marine Board of Investigation attempted to pinpoint what caused a seemingly well-built, well-maintained vessel to capsize on Dec. 31, 2019.

In the morning session, the Coast Guard panel and members of the National Transportation Safety Board heard testimony from Noelle Runyan, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Anchorage.

Questions for Runyan centered around how the regional NWS office assesses and issues warnings about heavy weather — in particular the critical freezing spray warnings — and what kind of warnings were issued before the Scandies Rose went down.

Runyan noted the NWS forecast for Dec. 31 showed ominous winds building during the day, with warnings of gale force winds and heavy freezing spray headlining the night’s forecast.

“During the day, it’s showing west winds at 30 knots, increasing in the afternoon, gusts increasing, especially in the bays and passes. Freezing spray, seas 17 feet. Then, when I look at Tuesday night, I see that seas are expected to be worse,” Runyan said.

Runyan said the wind and seas that battered the Scandies Rose were high, in line with a strong winter storms in the area.

The National Weather Service forecast for Dec. 31, 2019 out of Anchorage, Alaska.

Later in the day, the board heard testimony from two men familiar with the ship, both who said the Scandies Rose was a solidly built, well-maintained vessel.

Ed Ehler, the project manager at Lovrics SeaCraft in Anacortes, Wash., had worked through a maintenance checklist for the boat in April of 2019. He said Scandies Rose principal owner Dan Mattsen — who is also the captain of the Amatuli and has ownership stakes in the New Venture and the Alaska Challenger — has a reputation for taking good care of his vessels.

“What I can say about the Scandies Rose and (Mattsen’s) other boats is that he does maintain them better so than most that I see in this yard. The upkeep is somewhat above average,” Ehler said.

Long-time marine surveyor Erling Jacobsen inspected the Scandies Rose several times over the last two decades. He echoed Ehler’s comments.

“They always took very good care of the vessel, and I was impressed with the way they kept it maintained. They tried to address problems on the vessel the best they could. They just did a great job,” Jacobsen said.

Jacobsen added that the hull was one of the best he had seen come off Bender Shipbuilding’s yard in Mobile, Ala.

“The Scandies Rose was built to last,” Jacobsen said.

Erling Jacobsen, Marine Surveyor

Built to last, but very clearly something went wrong. Investigators zeroed in on a large, aft chute on the starboard side, alternatively referred to as the waste, overboard, or trash chute, and labeled the “shit chute” in texts from late Scandies Rose skipper Gary Cobban Jr.

Rusting steel in the chute had prompted a couple repairs in 2018 and 2019, but the crew found it was still leaking while they were getting ready for the 2020 winter crab season.

They hired Highmark Marine Fabrication in Kodiak, where welder Jordan Young did the work. He said the previous fixes on the chute had not rooted out the corrosion.

“They did a doubler, so they didn’t replace the wasted metal, they just put a patch over the top of it… There was significant wasting, and my job was to cut it out, get down to solid metal, and install all new material,” Young said, adding that it was his understanding the crew of the Scandies Rose had coated the leaky panels in Splash Zone or a similar epoxy.

Young estimated he spent seven or eight days on the project, and records show he used 66 square feet of steel.

Kerry Walsh, the project manager for Global Diving and Salvage, led a team that surveyed the wreckage in February 2020.

“Before we left the dock, it was obvious there were questions about the fabrication work that went down prior to the ship sailing and that was a potential cause for her having gone down. Our job was look and see what we could see,” said Walsh.

His team sent a Falcon ROV to take images and video of the wreckage, but Walsh said the vessel was on its starboard side, and they could not access the chute.

“There is no obvious reason, no obvious sign why it went down in our eyes,” he said.

The Scandies Rose sunk after a mayday call at 10 p.m. on New Year’s Eve of 2019 while it was steaming along the south end of the Alaska Peninsula near Sutwick Island. Four of the six crew members died. The tragedy came two years after another crab boat, the F/V Destination, capsized in Alaska, killing all six people onboard.

According to reporting by the Seattle Times, over 70 crew members on crab boats died during the 1990s, but no one died from a crab boat sinking from 2006 to 2016. — Brian Hagenbuch


Day one — the Destination is still on our minds

The hearings began this morning, Monday, Feb. 22, by setting the scene of the accident — the boat's last known location, weather conditions and the locations and names of other fishing boats in the area at the time.

Throughout the hearings one theme carried across all witnesses — shock that this could have happened to the Scandies Rose.

Side-scan sonar image of the Scandies Rose on the seafloor.

The first witness to testify was Dan Mattsen, principal of Mattsen Management, 51 percent owner of the Scandies Rose, and the captain of the Amatuli, which is primarily a tender vessel now.

Dan Mattsen

Mattsen also has ownership stakes in the New Venture and the Alaska Challenger.

According to John Walsh, who testified at the end of the day, it was around 2012 that then-owner Leif Larsen was looking to sell the Scandies Rose.

Mattsen put together a partnership with Scandies Rose Captain Gary Cobban, Walsh and three partners from Alaskan Leader Fisheries.

After several years the Alaskan Leader partners were building a new factory longliner and wanted to be bought out.

“That's the genesis of the Scandies Rose Fishing Co.,” Mattsen said.

Though the boat was hauled out in 2019 for regular maintenance, some welding work was done at the Ocean Beauty dock by an independent welding crew and overseen by Mattsen.

“There's a void underneath [the starboard crab waste disposal chute] from the forepeak to the engine room, and Gary [Cobban] noticed there was water in it,” Mattsen testified. “It turned out to be a crappy weld job. So they had it redone before the winter crab season.”

Image of chute damage via text from Gary Cobban.

The owners had also had a new stability test completed following the loss of the Destination. Bruce Culver had done the 1988 stability report. So in spring of 2019, Culver did a new stability report

The report determined that the Scandies Rose could carry 208 835-pound pots in non-icing or icing conditions.

"It would be very difficult to get 208 pots on that boat… under actual fishing conditions,” said Mattsen, “So the fact that they put a limit that was more than we were going to carry was good news for us. We thought it was good news."

“There’s been a lot of numbers talked about, how many pots were on the boat,” Mattsen said in response to a question from Barnum of the NTSB. “Gary told me it was 192 pots. Gary would know better than anybody how many pots were actually on the boat. So that's the number I'm going to use.”

Following some questions about Cobban’s lack of a captain’s license, Mattsen assured the investigators of his qualifications by way of a lifetime of experience.

“Gary's been running boats since he was 16 years old. His father owned the boat. You know he couldn't get a license — he's color blind,” Mattsen said. “Other than that, Gary had no problems. He's a captain.”

When Mattsen’s testimony was turned over to Barton Barnum of the NTSB, a miscommunication led to the most fiery moment of the day.

Barnum asked Mattsen what naval architects performed stability reports on his other vessels.

Mattsen replied it had been Seattle-based Hal Hockema’s group: “I trust Hal. So he sent his team out to do the incline test.”

Barnum: “It was different than the Scandies Rose naval architect?”

Mattsen: “Yes.”

Barnum: “And why was that?”

Mattsen: “Excuse my French, but my fucking boat sank. So I wasn't going to go back to the same naval architect until we found out what the hell was the cause of that.”

Barnum, looking taken aback, and realizing that Hockema’s group had overseen a new test after the Scandies Rose sinking, rather than before: “It was my misunderstanding. I thought you had gotten new stability instructions prior.”

Captain Greg Callaghan, chief of Prevention for the 11th Coast Guard District Chairman of the Coast Guard Marine Board of Investigation is the presiding officer over these proceedings.

Coast Guard questioning was led by Coast Guard Cmdr. Karen Denny with Barton Barnum, a representative present from the National Transportation Safety Board, as well as counsel for the witnesses and a representative for the surviving crew members.

Queries focused on who owned the boat, what their responsibilities were in regular operations and decision making, and how much their more recent decisions may have been informed by the reports of the Destination sinking.

Icing, gear weight, maintenance, crew hiring protocols, training, medical history of the crew, and general stability were key topics of the day.

“The marine board planned this two-week hearing to examine all events relating to the loss of the Scandies Rose and five crew members,” Callaghan said. “The hearing will explore crew member duties and qualifications, shoreside support operations, vessel stability, weather factors, effects of icing, safety equipment, the operation of the vessel from the past up to and including the accident voyage, survey imagery of the vessel in its final resting place. The hearing will also include a review of industry and regulatory safety programs, as well as the U.S. Coast Guard search and rescue activities related to the response phase of the accident after notification that the Scandies Rose was in distress.”  — Jessica Hathaway


Thursday, Feb. 18

The U.S. Coast Guard is scheduled to convene a formal hearing on the loss of the Bering Sea crab boat Scandies Rose, starting Monday, Feb. 22.

Check back here for NF’s daily updates from the hearing, which is scheduled to run weekdays through Friday, March 5, beginning at 8 a.m. Pacific.

The hearing will stream live from Washington's Edmonds Center for the Arts.

The 130-foot Scandies Rose and five of her seven-man crew were lost on Dec. 31, 2019. John Lawler and Dean Gribble Jr., made it into survival suits and a life raft. They were rescued by the Coast Guard, which convened a Marine Board of Investigation into the sinking.

Those lost at sea were the boat's longtime captain, Gary Cobban Jr., 60; his son, David Cobban, 30; Seth Rosseau-Gano, 31; Arthur Ganacias, 50; and Brock Rainey, 47.

The survivors and the families of those lost reached an agreement with the owners of the Scandies Rose for more than $9 million in a settlement.

Clockwise from top left: captain Gary Cobban Jr., David Cobban, Seth Rousseau-Gano, Arthur Ganacias, Brock Rainey. Scandies Rose Facebook page

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