Exclusive: ‘Deadliest Catch’ Captain Sig Hansen Details His Scariest Experience Out on the Frozen Sea

by Matthew Wilson

They call the show “Deadliest Catch” for a reason. Captain Sig Hansen has had some close calls in his career but one stands out above the rest. In an exclusive interview with Outsider, Hansen discusses his scariest moment at sea.

They rank Alaskan crab fishing among the most dangerous jobs in the world. Out on the Bering Strait, a small mistake could mean the difference between life and death. The area is a hostile, frozen environment looking to punish man for daring to venture into it.

Hansen has made several mistakes over his long career. But one error early in his career as captain almost cost him the life of himself and his crew. He confessed he was too ambitious and perhaps a little too reckless during those days.

“There’s been a few. Honestly icing conditions that’s a big factor for us, when the boat ices down,” Hansen told Outsider. “You make a spray and that freezes instantly on the boat. And for me, I was a younger man and really aggressive. We weren’t chopping the ice off the boat like I should have been. And I just let it go too far. I wanted to keep fishing.”

Sig Hansen’s Boat Almost Capsized

Hansen said he realized too late that his ship, the Northwestern, was literally starting to sink beneath his feet. The ice build-up had weighed down the front of the ship, causing it to sink lower into the frigid water. Hansen realized the situation was dire.

“In doing so, she [Northwestern] got so heavy that she was kind of going down on the bow, on the nose first,” Hansen said. “She was literally sinking underneath our feet. We did manage to start getting some of the ice off the nose on her side. We chopped and chopped and chopped. It took about 16 to 18 hours before she even started to get level again.”

It’s an error that Hansen never forgot and would never make again. The sea captain admits that boats capsizing is a real risk and often a deadly one, given the cold temperatures.

“That’s one of those things where you can say live and learn,” Hansen said. “But you only get to learn that once or never again. It’s very dangerous. Boats capsize because of that ice and that’s very dangerous.”

Viewers can catch up with Hansen’s latest adventures in April. “Deadliest Catch” premieres Tuesday, April 20 at 8 pm on Discovery and is streaming now on Discovery+.