Fishing Vessel Hotspur before the casualty

​Hotspur pierside before the ​​capsizing and sinking in Ketchikan, Alaska. (Source: US Coast Guard)

Capsizing and Sinking of Fishing Vessel Hotspur

What Happened

​​On August 2, 2022, about 1955 local time, the fishing vessel Hotspur developed a list, capsized, and sank while transiting west through Dixon Entrance near Nunez Rocks, off the southern tip of Prince of Wales Island, Alaska. The captain and four crewmembers abandoned the vessel to a liferaft and were rescued by two Good Samaritan vessels. There were no injuries. Multiple sheens were reported. The Hotspur, which was declared a total loss, had an estimated value of $1.2 million.

What We Found

​We determined that the probable cause of the capsizing and sinking of fishing vessel Hotspur was flooding from an unknown source into the lazarette or the port void space, causing the vessel to lose stability, capsize, and sink. ​

Lessons Learned

​​Testing of High-Level Alarms and Sensors

Automatic high-water bilge alarms are intended to provide crews with an early warning of vessel flooding. Manual detection (e.g. visually) often occurs only after flooding is underway and the crew has detected excessive rolling or listing, leaving little time for mitigating action. In inaccessible spaces, or small spaces with limited ability to inspect underway (such as a fishing vessel’s smaller compartments, voids, or lazarette), bilge-level-monitoring alarms are often the sole means to alert operators of flooding. Operators should periodically test bilge high-water alarms and follow best marine practices and manufacturer recommendations for inspection and maintenance.