Marine Accident Report

Sinking of U.S. Fish Processing Vessel Alaska Ranger
Bering Sea
March 23, 2008

NTSB Number: MAR-09/05
NTIS Number: PB2009-916405

Executive Summary:

On March 23, 2008, the U.S. fish processing vessel Alaska Ranger sank in the Bering Sea 120 nautical miles west of Dutch Harbor, Alaska. The vessel was owned by Fishing Company of Alaska, Inc., headquartered in Seattle, Washington. Five of the 47 people on board died in the accident.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the sinking of the Alaska Ranger was uncontrolled, progressive flooding due to a lack of internal watertight integrity and to a breach of the hull’s watertight envelope, likely caused by a physical rudder loss. Contributing to the loss of life was the vessel’s movement astern, which likely accelerated the flooding and caused the liferafts to swing out of reach of many crewmembers.

The safety issues discussed in the report concern the vessel’s movement astern, company operations, postaccident drug and alcohol testing, emergency response, implementation of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Alternate Compliance and Safety Agreement program, and oversight of U.S. commercial fishing industry vessels. Safety recommendations are made to the Coast Guard, the National Marine Fisheries Service, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, and Fishing Company of Alaska.