Two NOAA ships, en route to scientific missions in Alaskan waters, have been instrumental in locating a missing fishing vessel, at the request of the US Coast Guard Marine Board of Investigation.
The Destination and its six crew were lost on February 11th this year, while fishing for snow crab northwest of St. George, Alaska.
NOAA fisheries survey vessel Oscar Dyson conducted an initial survey from 30th April to 1st May. The ship used its multibeam echo sounder to search the area around the last known position of the Destination. While not able to positively identify any contacts as the Destination, it did narrow the search area.
A second survey by hydrographic survey vessel Fairweather was conducted on July 8-9th. The Fairweather used its multibeam sonar, designed for seafloor mapping and object detection, to locate the Destination in approximately 250 feet of water.
Images obtained using Fairweather’s multibeam sonar clearly show Destination, including the bulbous bow to the right, the forward house and mast, equipment (likely crab pots) stacked amidships, the deck crane aft, and the skeg and rudder.
With the wreckage and debris field located by NOAA ships, a US Coast Guard dive team aboard Coast Guard Cutter Healy will use a remotely operated vehicle to investigate the wreckage later this month. Imagery from the ROV will provide visual confirmation of the wreck site and become part of the Coast Guard’s Marine Board of Investigation, which holds its public hearing 7-18th August in Seattle.
‘The Marine Board appreciates NOAA’s help in locating the wreckage of the Destination,’ said Commander Scott Muller, US Coast Guard, chairman of the Marine Board of Investigation. ‘The vessel location is an instrumental piece of our investigation. We have a long partnership with NOAA to support the safety of those on the sea and appreciate their assistance in this and past investigations.’
‘The crew and officers of Oscar Dyson and Fairweather were honoured to assist the Coast Guard in this investigation,’ said Captain Keith Roberts, commanding officer of NOAA’s Marine Operations Center – Pacific. ‘Our thoughts are with the families and loved ones of those lost aboard the Destination.’
NOAA and the Coast Guard have a long history of collaboration, underscored by their shared mission to promote safety at sea. The unique capabilities of NOAA research and survey ships have been instrumental in assisting marine accident investigations, involving both vessels and aircraft.