Alaska Commercial Fishing and other Maritime Losses of 1983

January 25, 1983     The fishing vessel White Gull disappeared with three people on board between Pelican and Yakutat.

February 14, 1983     The 125 foot Americus rolled over and sank 70 miles NW of Dutch Harbor with the loss her seven crewmembers; captain George Nations, his son Jeff Nations, Brent Boles, Larry Littlefield, Paul Northcut, Victor Bass and Rich Awes.

February 14, 1983     The 125 foot Altair capsized and sank 70 miles NW of Dutch Harbor with the loss of her crew of seven: captain Ron Biernes, Jeff Martin, Tony Vienhkje, Brad Melvin, Mark Breckenridge, Troy Gudbranson and Randy Harvey.

March 12, 1983     Robert McElliott was lost overboard from the 65 foot Magnum Force near Cape Alitak.

March 12, 1983     Justina McGlashin Stepetin (27) of Akutan was lost when the 68 foot Sea Hawk capsized and sank east of Umnak Island.  The rest of the crewmembers were picked up by the Coast Guard Cutter Boutwell.

April 7, 1983     The tug Lou Ann sank 145 miles southeast of Cordova with the loss of her five crewmembers.  The barge Sherry Lee, that the Lou Ann was towing, was found beached.

April 16, 1983     Three people were lost when the longline fishing vessel Aloha hit a rock and sank in Crawfish Inlet, southeast of Sitka.

May 16, 1983     The trawler Noreen Ann flooded and sank when a plank cracked five miles west of Cape Lookout, Dall Island.  Two people on board were lost.

August 1, 1983     The 120 foot crab fishing vessel Ocean Grace capsized and sank August 14, 1983 approximately 22 miles northwest of Dutch Harbor in the Bering Sea.  Only one of the five on board survived.  Lost were skipper Harold Pedersen (46) of Edmonds, Randy R Ficks (27) of Seattle, Annette Fletcher (24) of Port Townsend and Jim P Converse (28) of Engadine, Michigan.  Survivor Jeff Anderson (30) of Everett, Washington was thrown clear of the Ocean Grace when a large wave struck and overturned her.  He managed to find and board the life raft and was picked up more than 24 hours later by a Panamanian ship.  Anderson was then transferred to the fishing vessel Miss Blue and transported to Dutch Harbor.

August 13, 1983     The 50 foot seiner Providence sank while at anchor in Thorn Arm, 18 miles S of Ketchikan with the loss of three of her crew of seven.  Lost were Chad Evans, Bill Davis and Richard Hall.

September 1, 1983     The 86 foot Golden Viking capsized in rough weather nine miles south of Saint Matthew Island.   Nick Moe and Michael McKee were lost.

September 4, 1983     One person was lost when the fishing vessel Christina Marie grounded on Humpy Point in Dixon Entrance south of Ketchikan.

September 4, 1983     The 38 foot Parks 15 capsized and sank in rough weather near Miners Point on the W side of Kodiak Island in the Shelikof Strait.  Four of her crewmembers were picked up by USCG helicopter, but Archie Densmore of Kodiak was lost.  A three year old girl found floating face down was revived by the U S Coast Guard rescue crew.

September 23, 1983     The 92 foot Endeavor rolled over and sank 25 miles NE of Sand Point in the Shumagin Islands.  Lost was captain John Bartee of Port Angeles WA, Marshall Patrick of Anchorage , Pat Gillen of Lynwood WA and Jeff Rhodes.

October 8, 1983     Three people were lost when an unnamed 12.5 foot small boat sank near Auke Bay.

October 27, 1983     The 130 foot tug Eagle capsized in heavy seas 70 miles southeast of Yakutat in the Gulf of Alaska.  All eight of her crewmembers perished.

December 3, 1983     Two persons were lost when the crab fishing vessel Spirit was found submerged near Gustavus at Pleasant Island, 44 miles northwest of Juneau.

6 Replies to “Alaska Commercial Fishing and other Maritime Losses of 1983”

  1. Working at the Kodiak Harbormaster’s Office for over 20 years I have made many friends, and lost many good ones. It is very sad to read of the losses aboard these vessel’s. Do you remember Al Drabek telling you about the rescue of Joe Harlan and his family aboard the Deliverance. He saved many lives also. Keep up the stories on these vessel’s.

    1. Thank you for checking in, Becky, I remember you from the Harbor Master’s Office at Kodiak. I have sent you a copy of my new book Alaska Shipwrecks. You of all people knew many of the boats and people lost. Smooth Sailing

  2. I knew the owner and skipper of the Aloha, which sank on April 16, 1983. His name was Wilbur Olin. He was a very fine man and by all accounts, a very good skipper. I know two of the survivors: Ed Mertz and Dave Coleman, who are both still fishing their own boats in Southeast Alaska, to date 2018. I’m afraid I didn’t know the other three. The morning after the accident, I flew in a floatplane with the owner’s father-in-law out to the location and from the air, we could see an oil slick coming up from the boat. It was in about 100 feet of water, where it sank after hitting a rock. A sight that still haunts me to this day. I fished on that boat for five years, before Wilbur bought it in 1980.

    1. Thanks for posting and sorry for your loss Greg. I was just looking at the charts for Crawfish Inlet where the Aloha sank and comparing the old charts with the new. Very often newer charts have rocks and reefs marked where older ones don’t. I have never been in that inlet, but it looks to be a beautiful place with the steep terrain surrounding it on both sides in places.

  3. Crawfish Inlet is a beautiful place, for sure. The location of the accident is on the outside of the entrance to Walker Channel, just north a bit. Crawfish connects to Walker Channel. SE 25 weather, good load of black cod aboard, headed up the coast to Sitka to deliver. Either someone fell asleep, or an inexperienced crew member tried to navigate when he shouldn’t have. Of course, it was middle of the night and despite the USCG air station being very nearby, no one was found until daylight. This one speaks to the necessity of having lights on your survival suit. Pilots said they unknowingly flew over them several times that night, but none of the suits had lights. The three survivors were able to get out of the water onto a headland. The other three ended up back in a small notch in the surf and could not get out. We were allowed to listen to the mayday call recording at the air station the next day. It was very direct and very short. Only two transmissions – the first, from a deck hand, and the second, from the skipper.
    A side note to this. We were told that a few days later, the Coast Guard took a state trooper diver out to inspect the boat. He apparently reported that the bow was split open badly, which is no surprise, given that the boat had a load of fish on. Lots of weight to add to the impact.

    1. I have been reading and downloading Coast Guard “Marine Information for Safety and Law Enforcement” reports for wrecks over the past twenty years or so. There are an amazing number of “asleep at the wheel” boat wrecks. Many even have watch alarms but get around them one way or the other. Thanks for your input. Maybe one of those little LASER beams would be a good addition to a survival suit. The ones that you get in trouble for shining them at an aircraft. If they made one with a different inert gas like xenon or argon so that the color of the laser beam would be unique to emergencies. I think xenon would make the laser blue and argon green. Wouldn’t be that much of a cost. The little red(helium) ones are only five bucks at Walmart. Having read thousands of wreck reports and stories, I can see a few improvements that would help surviving in a survival suit and attracting the attention of rescue efforts. That laser would be a good one. The trick would be operating it with those cumbersome “mittens” over your hands.

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