Last month we wrote about the National Transportation Safety Board releasing a summary of their findings in their investigation of the December 31, 2019 sinking of the F/V Scandies Rose, near Sutwik Island, Alaska. This week, the NTSB released the full report. You can download the full report here: https://bit.ly/3igfCxz.
The report finds that the Scandies Rose capsized and sank as a result of ice build-up on the starboard side of the stack of cod pods on deck. As the vessel turned to get out of the weather in the lee of Sutwick Island, the port side vessel was exposed to the full force of the seas and 60-70 kt. winds, rolling the vessel onto its side. At that point, downflooding was inevitable and the boat was lost. The timeline of events makes for harrowing reading.
As we mentioned before, the NTSB does not find fault with the crew, the vessel, or its operation. Rather the NTSB finds that insufficient weather information and inaccurate and insufficient vessel stability instructions lead to the decisions that brought the Scandies Rose and her crew into harms way.
At 87 pages in length, there's too much information to summarize into a blog post. However, we'll call your attention to some actionable info for vessel operators to consider. As was brought out in the Coast Guard's Marine Board of Inquiry hearings on the accident, fishing captains are not commonly aware of the icing calculations used by marine architects when making a vessel's stability instructions. By regulation, icing must be calculated as a minimum 1.3 inches of ice build-up on continuous horizontal surfaces and 0.65 inches of ice on continuous vertical surfaces. As reported, captains frequently allow several inches of ice to build several inches of ice to build up, before sending the crew out to de-ice, as it's easier to break the thicker ice off of the boat and fishing gear.
Moreover, the regulations envision a stack of pots like a large box. Unless tarped, the stack of pots on deck build up ice inside the pots and within the pots interior to the stack. Needless to say, this allows a weight of ice to build up, well beyond what is contemplated in a vessel's stability instructions. In fact, following the sinking of the Scandies Rose, the USCGC Polar Star conducted an icing simulation on a 1,040 lb. crab pot. After 72 hours in 5° F to 15° F temperatures and variable winds, the pot weighed in excess of 3,000 lbs.!
Consider your operations in light of this new information. To help you, NTSB calls your attention to a couple of documents. Safety Alert 11-17 was prepared by the Coast Guard. It contains general guidance on safe operations in icing conditions, as well as links to a downloadable reference booklet on fishing vessel stability and a stability reference card to keep in the wheelhouse.
NTSB has prepared Safety Alert 074, addressing the risks of ice from freezing spray on vessel stability. This document offers solutions for managing ice build-up when operating your vessel in winter conditions.
In the report, NTSB also recommends the captains and crews get training on fishing vessel stability. Both AMSEA and NPFVOA offer Coast Guard-accepted stability classes for commercial fishermen. As the report notes, these classes are not currently required by the Coast Guard and interest from fishermen in the classes has been low. We hope that interest will grow in the wake of accidents like the sinking of the Scandies Rose in 2019 and the F/V Destination in 2017. If you would like an AMSEA Fishing Vessel Stability class in your port, send message to email@example.com or give us a call at (907) 747-3287.