Alaska Commercial Fishing and other Maritime Losses of 1979

February 6, 1979     The crab fishing vessel Edna B was consumed by fire and lost 25 miles south of Seward.  All four crewmembers made it to the beach and took shelter in a cabin.  One of the four perished before they were rescued by the U S Coast Guard cutter Jellison five days later.  The crew’s radio signal had been picked up by a man in Washington State and relayed to the Coast Guard in Alaska.

February 28, 1979     The 139 foot Alaska Roughneck ran aground and rolled over in Cold Bay near King Cove.  Skipper Eugene Love and deckhand Dan Buarnard were lost.  Two others survived.

March 30, 1979     Darren Kelly drowned in a skiff accident near Kodiak.

April 20, 1979     Three people were lost from an unnamed small boat near Ideal Cove south of Petersburg.

June 12, 1979     The 52 foot Restless C capsized in Hallo Bay. Two of the four crewmen were rescued by the vessel Awtam. The two lost were Ron Cochrane and H Q Hall.

June 14, 1979     An unnamed private boat struck a submerged piece of ice and sank in Kotzebue Sound.  Two of the three men on board crawled over the ice floes to shore but a third man was lost during the five hour journey.

July 5, 1979     Three persons were lost when an unnamed skin boat capsized in the surf while attempting to beach near the mouth of Cripple Creek, 12 miles northwest of Nome in Norton Sound.

July 5, 1979     The Japanese fishing vessel Hokuto Maru No 5 sank after a collision with the Japanese fish processor Tsuda Maru southwest of Saint Paul Island in the Bering Sea.  Six crewmembers from the Hokuto Maru were lost.  20 other crewmembers from the two vessels were rescued by the U S Coast Guard.

August 20, 1979     John Yakanak Sr of Kodiak fell overboard and was lost off of the vessel the Miss Diedre anchored in Akhiok Harbor.

September 14, 1979     The barge Yakutat drug anchor and was washed to the mouth of the Kaliakh River where a large wave washed two men overboard and sunk the vessel.  A 15 year old girl clung to the wreckage until she was able to swim to shore the following morning.  Both men were lost.

November 23, 1979     The 60 foot vessel Hellion was lost in a storm with 70 knot winds and 20 foot seas in the vicinity of Unimak Pass while hauling crab pots to winter storage at Beaver Inlet.  Lost were captain/owner Ronald Hoffman, Walt Laughhead and Aaron Going.

December 5, 1979     Three adults and seven children were lost from the Canadian gillnet fishing vessel Salintna.  The gillnetter departed Prince Rupert, British Columbia December 2nd on a day trip to Portland Inlet.  The Salintna was found badly damaged washed up on a beach at Tree Point, Alaska 46 miles north of Prince Rupert.  There were no survivors.  Lost were Roy Mostad (44), his three children Tommy (13), Robert (9) and Tina (9), Judy Stevens (30) and her three children Lyle (7), Nadine (6) and Roselle (4), and Wendy Stevens (27) and her daughter Angie (4).

December 18, 1979     James Horsefield was lost when the 105 foot Columbia sank at Unalaska.

December 19, 1979     The 31 foot fishing vessel Rough Draft wrecked near the Inian Islands off of Elfin Cove with the loss of the two persons on board.  Lost were David Michael Kennedy and a second crewmember named Tim Kennedy. The two were not related.

December 25, 1979     30 Taiwanese crewmembers perished when the 741 foot Japanese ore ship Lee Wang Zin struck a reef 60 miles north of the Queen Charlotte Islands in Dixon Entrance and capsized.  The vessel drifted to Kendrick Bay on Prince of Wales Island where she grounded.  The U S Coast Guard later attempted to tow the vessel to deep water and scuttle her, but she broke her tow line and sank nine miles south of Forrester Island In 1000 feet of water.

23 Replies to “Alaska Commercial Fishing and other Maritime Losses of 1979”

  1. My dad was the captain of the Rough Draft that sank December 19 1979. His name was David Micheal Kennedy. He was not found. His crewman’s last name was Kennedy also. He was found dead with life suit half zipped. Thank you for posting. Glad I found your site.

    1. Second crew member was Tim Kennedy, also a resident/fisherman from Elfin Cove. I was 11 and living in Elfin Cove at the time with my family when this tragedy happened.

  2. November 23, 1979; vessel Hellion
    Ronald Hoffman was the owner/captian and Walter Laughhead the crew member

    In the book ALASKA SHIPWRECKS: Volume III – Southwest, West, Central and North Alaska, it is correct.

    1. Thank You Irene. I have corrected the owner information on this site as well as the spelling of Mr. Laughhead. I will edit my ALASKA SHIPWRECK books as well. Thank you for the information. RIP Ron Hoffman, Walt Laughhead and Aaron Going.

  3. This is a marvelous idea, and very well executed.

    I met, and borrowed money, from a young woman in Bristol Bay who had recently (mid-to-late 1970s) survived the sinking of a crab vessel (I believe) somewhere near Dutch Harbor, when she was plucked (in her survival suit) from the sea by a Coast Guard helicopter. If that story rings a bell, or better yet a name (there weren’t very many women commercial fisherpersons at that time), I would love to know it. She would appreciate repayment on her loan, at prevailing interest rates, after all these years.

    1. There were several dozen lady deckhands and a couple lady skippers I knew back then, but I can’t remember who survived a shipwreck. I know there have been several. I will keep an eye out and if I run across anything, I will contact you.

    2. I think there were more lady deckhands and skippers than you realize. Just as a note, the following are some of the ladies who lost their lives working on boats after you made that bet: Karen Norton January 29, 1990 Kittiwake lost near Adak
      Justina McGlashan Stepetin (27) of Akutan March 12, 1983 Sea Hawk capsized and sank Umnak
      Roseanna Nasello March 17, 1980 Norel disappeared near Cape St. Elias
      Laura Murphy June 2, 1989 Fleet Commander capsized and lost Cook Inlet
      Karen Spector of Madison WI June 16, 1987 Miss Universe lost Semidi Islands
      Martha E. Hall of Eagle River July 3, 1982 Miserable Skunk capsized
      Annette Fletcher(24) of Port Townsend August 14, 1983 Ocean Grace capsized and sank
      Martha Mullen (31) of Petersburg September 14, 1994 Wesley capsized and sank near Petersburg
      Julie Mereness of Colorado September 17, 1993 Nettie H disappeared west of False Pass
      Greta Halgorsson (40) of Iceland September 19, 1987 Nordfjord disappeared
      Deborah Caterson (29) of Anchorage October 7, 1990 Arcticus Rex capsized and sank Unimak Pass
      Heather Cook (37) of Kodiak October 20, 1992 Sea Note sank near Yakutat
      Vickie Simonsen October 26, 1994 Fierce Competitor disappeared
      Laura Higby (17) of Sitka November 1, 1976 Vina capsized in Cedar Pass
      Renee Odegard (22) November 3, 1999 Mistress capsized and sank near Petersburg
      Cook Vanessa Sandin (23) of Kodiak November 30, 1981 Saint Patrick abandoned

      1. Laura Higbee survived the 1976 sinking. She & her crewmate abandoned as the vessel sank. He drowned as they swam to shore. She crawled up on the beach in the dark… cold, wet, alone. She lived an amazing survival story. Local fishermen, Forest Service, AST Troopers & Coast Guard crews searched the islands & beaches day after day. She flagged down a search vessel at the SW end of Lodge Island where ground parties were searching E to W.

        1. Thankyou for the heads up. I do not know how this story was not in our files. The vessel was the Vina and we have both crewmembers lost on that post too. I will edit our files and postings.

  4. I am looking for any record of my grandfather, James Louis Warner. He was the only survivor of a cargo tug boat wreck in southern Alaska. I know it was one of the major barge companies like Foss or Crowley and that the route was to Seattle. This happened around 1976-1979.

    1. I have not been able to find anything in my records that involved anyone named Warner. I was also unsuccessful in finding a James Warner in a shipwreck in newspaper files. There were a dozen or so tug losses in Alaska from 1975 to 1985, two of which had only one survivor, but both of those I have all the names and none is Warner. I will keep looking.

  5. Regarding the Lee Wang Zin,I was on that job and it was the M/V Salvage Chief,of Astoria Oregon, that was towing her, when she sank, and not the USCG ,as stated here.USCG and US Navy vessels stood off while we were towing her to 1000 fathoms where we would sink her but she sank right off of Dall Island. Tough job,we lost the tow once,rehooked and towed a 740′ ore carrier,upside down,slow going,we made about a knot speed.When she went down she reared up quick then sunk fast.

    1. Thanks for the heads up. I will edit and update the entry for the Lee Wang Zin. The entries for many of the thousands of wrecks that I am putting together are often abbreviated which sometimes creates a distorted version of the actual events. I am always appreciative of objective commentary that sets my records strait.

    2. Hello William
      My name is Scott Hansen. I was one of the divers that they flew out to the Salvage Chief to reattach to the wreck. I was in the wheelhouse talking to Captain Reno and got pictures at the moment the ship suddenly stood on end and sank. Quite exciting as to Salvage Chief was violently pulled backwards.

      1. I remember you Scott and thanks for the Abalones when we docked in Ketchikan afterword’s.While you were up in the wheelhouse with Reino, I was on the wench deck and as she was sinking the brake blew on the wench and the cable was rolling out,wench deck full of smoke .I reported to Reino and he said,”She’s going down!” I headed to the fantail, which was awash from the sinking ship pulling us astern fast, and saw her rear up, then sink to the deep,where she settled on the bottom, we had about 3 to 5 fathoms cable left on the drum.Art Clark,the Chief Engineer came out with a torch and cut the cable and that was that. The ships bosun,Al Morris had a heart attack on that job. That was a tough job,30 hands lost.

  6. The Ocean Pride sank in November of 1979 on the back side of Unimak Island. The crew was rescued by the Westward. No one was lost.

    1. Thanks Bob. I am updating and editing and ran across the Ocean Pride yesterday. Because it had so little information I didn’t know where it was lost. There have been many boats lost west and north of Unimak Island where the submerged Aleutian Canyon shallows up. I lost a good friend when the Lady of Good Voyage disappeared in that area in 1993. I am guessing you are related to the Ben Paz who was lost when the Pacific Trader capsized in that area. Sorry for your loss. I was on a boat that almost sank in the same area back in the 1970’s. We had sheltered on the south end of the Slime Bank waiting to see which side of Unimak a storm was going to track and unfortunately it decided to come onto the Bering Sea side. We barely made it to shelter behind Amak Island. In my entire fishing career that was the closest we ever came to losing the boat to weather.

  7. I’m trying to find information on about a boat that sank I believe they were trying to make Dutch Harbor 3 men lost 2 survived one was a young friend of my brother and I my brother died in a auto crash June 79 Island of Kodiak I worked on a floating Prosser 79 81 The All Alaska n his name was Cary Camack

    1. The 110 foot crab fishing vessel Pacific Trader capsized and sank February 7, 1980 north of Unimak in the Bering Sea. Jack Seagrave and Craig Seaborn were in survival suits and rescued by the fishing vessel Provider. Three others were lost including skipper Ben Paz of Dutch Harbor and crewmen Ken Morse of Soldotna and Carry Commack. Winds were at 40 to 50 knots and seas 10 to 15 feet. The fishing vessel Equinox was in radio contact with the Pacific Trader when she rolled over on her side. The Equinox put out a Mayday and more than a dozen fishing vessels and two U S Coast Guard aircraft responded to look for the missing men.

  8. Capt. Good…
    Do you have any details on the HARDER, 48-foot vessel sank near Kodiak October 6, 1979. The crew was picked up by the charter vessel Ten Bears. I’m looking for the crew names and additional info on the sinking.

    1. I have very little in the file on the Harder. According to CFEC she was owned by Gary M Marlar of P.O. Box 1714 Kodiak. Her Official Number was 204176, ADF&G #17651 and she was registered to fish Long Line and Otter Trawl. According to the Merchant Vessels Lists of 1978 and 1979 the Harder was built in 1907 at Ballard. Marlar had recently purchased the vessel from the Village of Kake. Her length was 42.7, Breadth 11.5 and Depth 4.4. Call Sign WD2810, Tonnage 20 Gross 13 Net. She had a wood hull and was diesel powered (90hp). That is all I have so far.

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