It’s not a matter of if something goes wrong on the Bering Sea. It’s a matter of when. Deadliest Catch star Captain Keith Colburn has witnessed plenty of disastrous situations over his decades at the helm of multiple crab boats. One instance in 2009 stands out as a particularly chaotic one.
Very rarely is a problem at sea limited to a single issue. When someone gets hurt, there are multiple things to consider. Is the injury so bad that the person needs a hospital? If so, how long will it take to get there? Did the incident cause any damage to the ship? The impact of one relatively minor problem can become overwhelming.
For that reason, the captains we see on Deadliest Catch need to process a lot of information quickly and under a ton of pressure. Captain Keith Colburn of the Wizard demonstrated that ability perfectly when things went wrong in 2009. Unfortunately, he miscalculated the size of a wave to disastrous results.
The 40-foot swell swept across the deck, shifting the weight of thousands of pounds of crab pots and subjecting three of his crewmen to the fallout. One of those men was Monte Colburn, Captain Keith’s brother. The impact broke a handful of his ribs, another crew member came out relatively unscathed with a black eye, and the third injured his back and head.
Keith Colburn didn’t panic. He credits years of experience and training in addition to an innate ability to slow tense situations down.
“All of a sudden, I had to be not only captain, but a nurse and a medic and also an engineer to get things working again,” Captain Keith Colburn told Business Observer.
One Thing the ‘Deadliest Catch’ Captains Have in Common is Experience
Captain Keith Colburn has been working in the Alaskan fishing industry since the 1980s. His decades of experience are what makes him so effective at the helm of a boat featured on Deadliest Catch. Likewise, Sig Hansen, captain of the Northwestern, has decades of experience.
His introduction to the crabbing lifestyle started in childhood, however. He knows the Bering Sea like the back of his hand. And if that wasn’t enough, his Norwegian roots prepared him for the frigid climate.
“When I was a kid, the first time I was on a crab boat, I was 12 years old. Every summer from there, I would participate by fishing for Blue King Crab, Gold Fin Salmon. In the Bering Sea, or if we went to Norway as a family, I would have a job over there to fish for cod or mackerel or herring. I was always busy in the summer,” Captain Sig Hansen told We Are the Mighty in an April interview.