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Investigation into Alaska Ranger sinking convened


March 30, 2008

DUTCH HARBOR, Alaska - The Marine Board of Investigation into the Alaska Ranger convened Friday in the Shishaldin Room of the Grand Aleutian Hotel.

The Capt. Michael Rand, USCG, and Mr. Liam LaRue, NTSB, from the board gave statements as to the purpose of the investigation, their authority to conduct the investigation and the scope. The recorder Lt. j.g. William Fitzgerald, Coast Guard Sector Anchorage, swore in the board.

The first witness called was Capt. Scott Krey, master of the fishing vessel Alaska Warrior. The board questioned Krey for over an hour about the operations onboard the vessel, the material condition of the vessel, the safety measures and drills conducted onboard, and his experiences during the response to the sinking of the Alaska Ranger and the rescue of its crew.

Krey said, "When we arrived on scene there were flashing lights everywhere - strobes, life rafts, individuals." Krey stated that the helicopter was on scene pulling people out of the water and he recognized that the considerable sail area on the life rafts was causing them to be pushed south by the northwest winds. He said there were 10 people in the first raft and 12 in the second.

jpg Trawl deck

Trawl deck of the Alaska Warrior, another Fishing Company of Alaska vessel.
The Marine Board of Investigation into the Alaska Ranger tours the trawl deck of the Alaska Warrior, another Fishing Company of Alaska vessel. The crew of the Alaska Warrior responded to the Alaska Ranger casualty and recovered several of the crew.
Official Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer Sara Francis

The board recessed to tour the Alaska Warrior with Krey as a guide. The board toured the bridge, processing plant (factory), engineering space, rudder room and trawl deck of the vessel.

Upon reconvening the board had additional questions for Krey and then called the Alaska Warriors First Mate Raymond Falante. Falante was directly responsible for pulling Alaska Ranger crewmembers from the water to safety. He detailed his experiences from time served on the Alaska Ranger and currently on the Alaska Warrior.

Falante made special mention of the Coast Guard crews by saying "I take my hat off to the Coast Guard." He also stated that the life sling the crew of the Alaska Warrior used was an excellent tool to recover the crew.

First Engineer James Madruga was then questioned about the material condition of the ship and the events of the sinking and rescue. Madruga detailed the sinking and his rescue by the Coast Guard. He was next to Byron Carrillo in the water. When the helicopter arrived the swimmer was deployed into the water to rescue the survivors. The swimmer reached Madruga first. Madruga told the swimmer to take Carrillo up to the helicopter before him. He thought Carrillo was colder and in worse shape. After Carrillo was put into the basket and the hecliopter crew had begun the hoist the swimmer returned for Madruga. The swimmer put Madruga into the basket and he was hoisted up to the helicopter.

"When I got up to the chopper I asked them where was the guy they brought up before me?" said Madruga. The crew and the survivors responded that he was it. No other man had been brought up after the swimmer was deployed.

The Coast Guard has convened an administrative investigation into the loss of an individual from the basket during the rescue. It has not been determined who that individual was or why they fell from the basket.

Madruga had been brought up into the HH-65 Dolphin. Other crew were in the helicopter and covered with blankets. Madruga did not see anyone fall from the basket. He was then taken to the Coast Guard Cutter Munro. "I was able to walk," said Madruga. Once on the Munro the crew had their suits removed and were dried off and warmed up. "They took off all our clothes, wrapped us in blankets and were taking our vitals."

The Alaska Ranger was enrolled in the Alternative Compliance and Safety Agreement Program for the Bering Sea/Aleutian Island Freezer Trawler and the Freezer Longliner fleet. An outline of the program's purpose is available at:

On Saturday, the Marine Board of Investigation into the Alaska Ranger casualty heard more testimony from the crew of the Alaska Ranger.

The board questioned Rodney Lundy, Second Assistant Engineer of the Alaska Ranger. An emotional Lundy detailed the routine on the vessel, the sinking and his rescue.

Lundy has been sailing on the Alaska Ranger most recently since 2001. He also served on the Alaska Warrior. He's been commercial fishing for 30 years. Lundy went into specifics about the layout of the ship and the sequence of events.

Lundy said in testimony that he was on watch when a high water alarm went off. "It was 2 o'clock because I was recording in my chlorine log," said Lundy.

When the alarm sounded he checked the alarm panel that indicated the trouble was in the rudder room. After arriving at the rudder room door he said he saw water coming up through the deck plates. He did not enter the room but while studying it the water began to rise quickly so Lundy closed the rudder room door quickly using the wheel in the center of the door and went back to his desk to call the bridge.

"I didn't want to drown," said Lundy. "First thing in my mind was close that door."

David Silveira, on the bridge, answered the call and Lundy told him to sound the general alarm. When Silveira asked why Lundy replied, "major flooding." Then Lundy called the chief engineer, Daniel Cook.

After closing the door and calling the bridge, the chief engineer and one of the technicians, Makoto Oide, came down. Cook looked around for a moment and then gave the order to abandon ship. Oide stayed with Lundy while Lundy shut down power to the hydraulic area to prevent electrocution and used a sledge hammer to thoroughly dog the hatch to the rudder room to prevent any leakage.

Lundy went next to the factory deck and looked in the shop on the starboard side located aft.  According to Lundy's testimony there was six inches of water in that space and water had reached the top of the coaming in the ramp room.

In the ramp room are two high-powered transformers, 480 volts each, behind the workbench. Water was lapping around the base of the transformers and they had started "popping" said Lundy. These transformers supply power to the house and the bridge.

Lundy told Oide to go and they both evacuated the space and closed the watertight door (between the shop and the ramp room) behind them but did not dog it. "I didn't want to get electrocuted," said Lundy. They did close the starboard door between the factory and the shop and dogged it. This time Oide had the sledge said Lundy.

Lundy and Oide went up to the bridge to muster. The other crew was there and the boat was still riding level. The crew had their survival suits at least partly donned except for Lundy and the master.

Lundy said David Silveira was radioing a mayday to the Coast Guard. He told the master "We're fixing to lose power." And about five minutes later they did.

Lundy was assigned to the number two life raft. After taking a starboard list the life rafts were launched. Lundy said the vessel was leaning so hard to starboard the painter line snapped.

With his survival suit fully donned Lundy moved forward on the bow and he jumped and slid off the boat into the water. Two Japanese crewmen in the life raft pulled him into the raft and he waited for rescue. The whole event seemed to take about an hour and a half. 

Lundy's raft was rescued by the crew of the Alaska Warrior. "The Warrior did an excellent, excellent job," said Lundy.

The board was focused on understanding the progression of events and where the water came from. When directly asked where he thought the water came from Lundy said, "We didn't know. Captain and the mate asked me that. I couldn't get back there (the rudder room) to see where the water was coming from."

The board also took testimony from Chris Cossich, the boatswain on the Alaska Ranger. Cossich had been on board the vessel for several years and is a qualified drill instructor (safety).

According to Cossich he was just going to bed when the alarm sounded. He headed up to the pilothouse and was told the rudder room was flooding. He and Evan Holmes went down below on the starboard side and saw water knee high in the ramp room and the tool room. He and Holmes went through the ramp room to get a dewatering pump that was kept next to the workbench in the shop. They began to set it up outside the shop. Another crewman, Indio Sol ran the discharge hose out the watertight door. The suction hose was put into the water covering the shop floor. They were directed to abandon ship by Lundy before they started up the pump.

They mustered with the crew and donned survival suits. While mustered they rotated in and out of the pilothouse three at a time to stay warm while they waited for further instruction.

Cossich was told they might loose power. After they did he said the boat slowly stopped moving forward and then started traveling backwards. He said he could tell because the wake shifted. The mate and the captain were driving. After power was lost he said the boat took a list to starboard.

The captain, Pete Jacobsen, told them to abandon ship. He launched his raft. He, like Lundy, said the painter line broke. Instead of going next to the Jacob's ladders the rafts shot forward by the bow because the ship was making stern way.

Cossich observed waves breaking over the stern of the vessel on the starboard side that washed netting off the deck. Several times the stern was submerged but it returned to the surface. He said he saw that happen only after they lost power and started running backwards.

Cossich entered the water and swam to the raft. "We kept yelling for people to get in the raft." He said Sol actually followed their yells and swam to the raft.

He said he was in the raft with a radio when captain came over the radio and said he was abandoning ship. That was the last time he heard the captain's voice.

According to Cossich the Coast Guard helicopter came overhead and told them to zip up the life raft and stay put while they rescued people in the water.

The next time they unzipped the raft Alaska Warrior was there to rescue them. The crew of the Alaska Warrior used their crane (also called a cherry picker) and boarding ladder to recover survivors. 

In the interest of getting testimony and allowing crewmembers to return home the board planned to re-convene at 9 a.m. Sunday morning and take half a day of testimony. Sunday afternoon will be spent digesting the information gathered so far. The board needs time to review the information gathered so far and prepare for the next witnesses.


Source of News & Photograph:

United States Coast Guard


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Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska