‘Deadliest Catch’ Fans Question ‘Safety’ of Crab Fishing Vessels

by Courtney Blackann

While the captains that make up the “Deadliest Catch” crew are seasoned fishermen, their safety isn’t guaranteed. Fishing in the harsh waters off the coast of Alaska is actually quite dangerous. “

Fair seas and following winds” isn’t just an expression. Large swells and strong winds can create problems for any vessel and crew. But the job has to get done.

Recently, fans of the show posed the question about their fishing vessels and how safe they are to crab. Users of Reddit had all sorts of theories and concerns about the issue.

“Being on deck and standing next to a line of a pot that WILL drag you down, seems like suicide to me. Why doesn’t anyone make an automatic crab pot -launch, -retrieve (and stack) ship? Why can’t a Moon Pool design be used? I will take a lager vessel I guess,” one user brought up, tagging an article in the Seattle Times.

The article discusses a new fishing vessel prototype that would allow fishermen to fish from behind the hull rather than on the deck. Though it also comes with a $35 million price tag. “Deadliest Catch” fans wonder if this could be the future for the crew.

However, as one user pointed out, the new-design boat may not be appropriate for crabbing.

Fishing Vessel Designs

“This isn’t a crab boat, it’s a cod boat using hook and line techniques, which usually stay in shallower water than the crab fleet,” the Redditor wrote. “They don’t require an open deck to store, bait and sort pots. That being said it is safer than other cod boats in the industry, but I think that’s more of a testament to how new this vessel is vs how old the average boat in the fleet is.”

Crews take many precautions on the current vessels and maintain boats and equipment properly. This doesn’t mean everything always runs perfectly, however.

“I understand what you are saying/asking, but the technology doesn’t really exist to make an automatic system,” the same user continues. “It would require a sophisticated system capable of spotting and hooking pots in 20 ft swells, getting the line into a block without tangling it, then keeping an eye on the tension of the shot to know if you are hung up on something on the seabed.”

‘Deadliest Catch’ Weather Wipes Out Boat

Considering fishing vessels can’t protect from all nefarious situations, occasionally something truly devastating happens.

When the F/V Destination left its port in 2017, it never returned. The members aboard the vessel were never found.

The boat was weighed down with 200 full crab pots. It was set to return home. However, there was also a dangerous ice storm lurking in the vessel’s path. The crew pushed ahead, trying to outrun the storm. Unfortunately, the boat sank – it was thought to have capsized with 340,000 pounds of ice pushing it down. No May Day call was ever made.

“Whatever happened, happened very, very quickly, and there’s no one left to tell their story,” Chris O’Neil, a member of the National Transportation Safety Board said.”The captain’s decision to proceed into heavy freezing spray conditions — without ensuring the Destination had a margin of stability to withstand that accumulation of ice — led to the loss of the vessel.”