Alaska Commercial Fishing and other Maritime Losses of 1978

April 26, 1978     Clarence F. Anderson (62) of Westport, Washington was lost when the 54 foot F/V Anchor caught fire near Cape Fairweather and Lituya Bay.  The fire broke out when a diesel fuel line leak was ignited by a cook stove. A second crewmember, Buck Douglas Jr., also from Westport, was able to extinguish the fire.

May 7, 1978     An unnamed skiff sank and five people were lost off of Prince of Wales Island.  The skiff was travelling between Craig and Hydaburg. Jay Burgess, Glenn Cook, Delbert Kelly, Bill Hamilton and Vern Edenshaw were last seen at 11:30 Saturday night departing on the 30 mile trip. The skiff was found submerged in 6 feet of water.

June 27, 1978     Ralph C Steiner of the fishing vessel Rover was fatally shot while attempting to shoot a halibut south of Cook Inlet.

August 12, 1978     The troller Saint Paul struck a rock and sank near Elfin Cove and George Island northwest of Juneau.   The two persons on board were lost.

August 24, 1978     The 75 foot fishing shrimp trawler Jeffrey Allen capsized and sank southeast of Puale Bay on the Alaska Peninsula.  Three of the four crewmen, Rusty Slayton, Jeff Slayton and Mike Carroll were rescued by the vessel Cape Fairwell.  The fourth crewman, Don Corzine (28) from Brookings, Oregon was lost with the Jeffery Allen.  The vessel was salvaged in October of 1979.

September 25, 1978     Jake Rivas was lost from an unnamed skiff between Kodiak and Woody Island.

October 2, 1978     Two crewmen were lost when the 42 foot Marion A took a wave broadside, rolled over and sank with a load of gear. The lost crewmen were Jerry Allain and Delno Oldham of Kodiak.  The third crewman, Gerald Bourgeoius, survived on the beach 11 days until rescued by the crew of the vessel Moonsong.  The incident took place in Geese Island Channel near Cape Trinity at the south end of Kodiak Island.

November 4, 1978     The 78 foot crab vessel Epic rolled over and sank off the south end of Kodiak Island.  Only one crewmember survived.   Among those lost were captain Reid Hiner, Matt Gravinski, Gene Roberts and Bob Waage.  The weight of a stack of clamshell style crab pots shifting on deck in rough weather contributed to the vessel capsizing.

November 28, 1978     Wilton Wiley of Kodiak drowned after falling off a dock in Dutch Harbor while working aboard the Makushin.

December 7, 1978     The 34 foot crab fishing vessel Shapercey capsized and sank two miles off of the Homer spit with the loss of crewmen Woody Smith and Shaun E Kirby.

15 Replies to “Alaska Commercial Fishing and other Maritime Losses of 1978”

  1. Regarding a missing fishing vessel, M/V “Marlee”, home port Seward, AK.

    My uncle George Elias Parr, a 76 years old fisherman and owner of M/V “Marlee”,
    was reported as missing to the Alaska State Troopers in September 1978.

    They checked all ports along the south central coast of Alaska and contacted hospitals as well. Mr. Parr has not returned to his homeport. In October 1978 a search was
    made in all porting harbors and bays were Mr. Parr was known to have fished.
    The search was accomplished by a 65′ patrol vessel, covering some 300 miles.
    In November 1978 a police bulletin was printed and forwarded to all police agencies
    in the State of Alaska. Also, a letter was forwarded to the US Coast Guard, requesting
    their assistance in locating George E Parr and his vessel. On December 28 1978, the Department of Public Safety, Alaska State Troopers, sent a letter to George Elias’s brother , Olav Pahr (my father) in Norway. The information above is an abstract from this official letter. In my own research I have found documents, in the form of original receipts and invoices, that indicate that M/V “Marlee” left Seward between April 24 and May 9, 1978. Also, I have a copy of a “Report of Survey” for M/V “Marlee”, signed on March 28, 1978. Excerpts of survey:
    Official No. 505231, Name “Marlee”, Type Gillnetter, Waters navigated SW Alaska,
    Built in 1962, by Commercial Const, in Seattle, WA, last drydocked 1977,
    Engine name 471 built 1962 by GMC, kind Diesel, 115 HP,
    Fuel Consumption 4 Gallons per hour, fuel capacity in 2 tanks 400 Gallons totally, speed 8 Miles/hour.
    Max range estimate 800 Miles. Aux engines None. Prop. 18″x22″ Bronze. No. of Crew: 2
    Extra equipment Autopilot, Fathommeter (depth sounder), Tranceiver Radio. Type of depth sounder: ROSS 600 B, 12 VDC.
    Condition of Hull excellent. Good seaworthy condition, the vessel has been well taken care of by owner(s).
    I do not know if George had a crew member on-board or not. Probably not.

    If someone can help solve the mystery of M/V “Marlee”, George E Parr’s family in Norway will be very greatful.

    Kind regards
    Per Olaf Pahr

    1. Thank You for your inquiry. I have no information on the Marlee at the moment but will look into it. I will also include George E Parr and the Marlee in my lists. Do you know what George was doing when he disappeared. Was he fishing or traveling south. There was a boat lost near Lituya Bay just days after the Marlee went missing. I have no information on that one but will also research it because there was one casualty. I attempt to put names to the losses so our mariners will not be forgotten. Sorry for your loss.

  2. Regarding Mr. George E Parr reported as missing in 1978 in his 33′ Gillnetter fishing boat M/V “Marlee”.

    Thank you very much for your help !

    Yes, you are asking the right question. I do not know if George left Seward for fishing or if he left south, e.g. to Juneau or to Seattle, say, to offer for sale M/V “Marlee”. Misc. services were completed while the vessel was stored for nearly 8 months at the north yard in Seward. The Ross 600 B Depth Sounder was bought from
    Northwest Instrument Co in Seattle. It was shipped by air freight from Seattle to Anchorage on March 13, 1978. On March 20 George put his signature on the airbill. As we know, the “Report of Survey” was issued on March 28, 1978.
    Replacement value for M/V “Marlee” was $ 60,000 and estimated present value $ 42,000 in the report of survey. I think George needed the depth sounder installed if he was “going South” to Seattle. Allthough the cost of the instrument was as low as $ 785.00, having one installed, the chance of finding a buyer could be improved.

    Kind regards:
    Per Olaf Pahr

    1. I also found that George E Parr of P O Box 182, Seward, Alaska was issued an Interim Use Permit (#42387 O) to long line fish for Halibut in Alaska from May 11, 1978 till the end of the year. I do not know the date that the permit was issued or if it was used. The depth sounder would be important for fishing halibut. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game number for the Marlee was 13545 and the CFEC ID number was 447813. I also noticed that the Marlee did not have a radio installed according to the United States List of Merchant Vessels of 1978.

      I was fishing in the Kodiak area (south of Seward) in the spring of 1978 and moved out to the Bering Sea in the fall. The vessel I was fishing on in the spring was lost with four crewmembers shortly after I moved on to another boat. That is when I began researching shipwrecks in Alaska. I have never stopped. I have contacted an associate who is also interested in Alaska Shipwrecks. We will both continue to look for information about George E Parr and the fishing vessel Marlee. It is our calling.

  3. Thank you very much for devoting your efforts to the search for shipwrecks and the fishermen and -women lost at sea, as probably was the fate of George E Parr in his M/V Marlee.

    According to the “Report of Survey” for Marlee, dated March 28, 1978, there was a radio transceiver on-board. Regarding fuel: I have the original Harbor Fuel Service receipts, one for 37 Gallons of Chevron No. 2 bought on April 3 and the last one for April 24, 1978 for 14 Gallons Chevron No. 1 . This is not much fuel and indicate local fishing. Further, I found a hand-written City of Seward Harbor Fund Cash receipt dated May 9, 1978, $ 277,44 and a corresponding type-written “Third Notice” invoice to the same amount of money, dated May 3, 1978. There is also an unpaid telephone bill from May 9, 1978. Tomorrow I’ll see if I can find any permits to fish halibut.

    Kind regards:
    Per Olaf Pahr

    1. Is it possible that George E Parr died in Montana in 1979? I have found a United States Social Security Death Index record for the death of someone with that name Tuesday May 15, 1979. That George E Parr was born December 18, 1901.

      1. Yes, indeed captaingood, you have found him, many thanks ! According to the digital archives in Norway, Jørgen (“George”) Elias Parr was born in the community Sunnylven on December 18, 1901 and he emigrated to the USA. You have found a United States Social Security Death Index record for the death of someone with that name, who died on Tuesday May 15, 1979. The date of birth of George E. Parr is recorded as December 18, 1901, therein, a “perfect” match.
        Many open questions are still unanswered, i.e. where did the 31 feet gilnetter M/V Marlee end up ?

        Again many thanks to capaingood and to Brit Tidemann Hermann. Brit helped to dig into the norwegian records.

        1. I have an inquiry into the Alaska State Troopers to see if they have any records that may help. I should be hearing back from them in a few weeks. I will keep you posted.

  4. captaingood,

    I was lucky and found one original “COMMERCIAL FISHERMAN’s LICENSE”, No. 34107, issued at Kodiak on May 6, 1974. The document includes a physical description of George. The fee was $10 for resident George E Parr, fishing from an halibut vessel, using long line gear. The license expired on December 31, 1974. There is a gear license as well, No. 33261, fee for resident $25, ADF&G No. 13545. I found a vessel license as well, No. 33051, fee for non-resident $30, ADF&G No. 13545, vessel Marlee, Official No. 505231.The keel length is 33.3′. Net tons is 9, and type of vessel is halibut and type of gear long line. Further , I found an application for licenses for the year 1976. It is hard to read (weak carbon copy). However, I found several Fishing Tickets for fish sold and reported to the ADF&G during the years 1975 and 1976.

    Since Mr. Parr had delivered fish, mostly halibut, at most of the ports in the area and since he in May 1978, when “M/V Marlee” probably was lost, he already was an old man, so many fishermen could have seen him or spoken to him. Let us continue to search .

    Kind regards
    Per Olaf Pahr

    1. I was able to find the names of the two fishermen aboard the vessel that had a galley fire in late April of 1978 where one person was lost. That fire was on a vessel named Anchor. Neither was your Uncle George. I did run across a letter to the editor that was published in the Fairbanks News Miner from George E Parr. I will send a copy to you via email. If there was a missing person report issued back in 1978 the Alaska Department of Public Safety or Alaska State Troopers would likely have record of it. They may also have a record of the outcome of a search including any wreckage that was found and things like that. In 1978 I was fishing out of Kodiak and worked fishing grounds from Portlock Bank in the northern Gulf of Alaska to the Slime Bank of the Bering Sea. I was a regular at many of the watering holes in Kodiak on the off seasons looking for work for the next season. I fished halibut like George Parr but also shrimp, salmon, tanner crab and king crab.

  5. Does anybody know anything about the capsizing of the Shapercey on Dec. 7? I was a close friend of Shaun’s and would like to know more about anything I could find out, thanks.

    1. I searched through my records and the two news services I subscribe to and was not able to find anything about this tragedy. I will keep trying and contact you if anything turns up. Sorry for your loss.

    2. I was a friend of Randy Hawkenson at the time.He told me this.They
      Left the harbor .It was pretty calm.They got out where there was a little swell action.It went right over.He grabbed a flashlight and
      Broke a window and got out.
      Bob Prew was leaving the harbor behind him and saw the light and went to check it out.He rescued Randy.I have always thought that
      Shaun was the only other person on the Shapercey

    1. I grew up with Wilton and think of him often. He was a very funny person and I liked him a lot. I remember a “Susan” but your last name was different… I will remember it when I stop thinking about it… you had thick blond hair?

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