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'An Absolute Mystery:' No Sign Of Missing Fishing Vessel Or 6 Aboard

Feb 13, 2017

Credit U.S. Coast Guard District 17

Two days after a fishing vessel went missing in the Bering Sea, U.S. Coast Guard officials say there’s been no sign of the ship -- or the six people onboard -- since searchers found its emergency beacon Saturday afternoon.

The F/V Destination sent a distress signal Saturday morning, two miles northwest of St. George Island.

The Coast Guard has launched a  search for the 98-foot crabber, which is based in Sand Point and Seattle.

David Wilson and his brother have owned the boat for more than 30 years, according to their maritime attorney Michael Barcott.

“They are a longtime Alaska fishing family with deep roots in the Sand Point community,” he said.

Barcott said the vessel was on its way to fish for opilio snow crab when it activated its electronic position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB).

“The boat had left Sand Point, called in Dutch Harbor to pick up some bait, and was on its way to St. Paul Island," he said. "The EPIRB went off at 6:11 a.m. Saturday, and it appears it was somewhere between two and four miles off St. George Island at the time of the incident."

The Coast Guard has not released any theories as to what may have happened to the Destination. Barcott said the owners don’t know either.

“We know this: This was a really good and experienced crew," he said. "This captain had been on this boat for a long time, the boat was in good condition, and it is an absolute mystery what happened.”

Coast Guard Petty Officer Lauren Steenson said searchers found the boat’s emergency beacon at sea Saturday afternoon “among a debris field containing buoys, a life ring, and an oil sheen.”

The search has continued since then with no luck, and Steenson said it’s unclear how long the Coast Guard will continue looking.

“I’m not sure, and I wouldn’t be able to speculate,” she said. “At the moment, we have the Coast Guard cutter Morgenthau searching, with an aviation detachment onboard. It’s an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew, two MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crews, and two HC-130 Hercules airplane crews.”

Steenson said St. George residents are patrolling the shore for signs of the Destination or its crew. Two volunteer ships -- the fishing vessels Bering Rose and Silver Spray -- also responded.

“We appreciate all of the Good Samaritans coming together and the community of St. George setting up search parties for the shoreline,” she said. “We really rely on the maritime community to respond to urgent marine broadcasts, help us get more eyes out there, and hope for the best.”

This is a developing story. Please check back for more information.