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 Northcutt, 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 Vienhage, Brad Melvin, Larkin 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     Owner and skipper Wilbur Olin (55) of Sitka, crewman Wallace McLaughlin (23) of Seattle and Charles J. Perlin (31) of Sitka 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.

May 20, 1983     Two of three persons in a canoe were lost when their canoe capsized off of Woody Island near Kodiak.  Lost were Lynn Gilliland and John Rolph.  The two were engaged to be married.

August 1, 1983     The 122 foot crab vessel Ocean Grace capsized 22 miles N of Dutch Harbor. Lost were captain Harold Pederson of Seattle, Randy Ficks of Seattle, Annette Fletcher of Seattle and Jim Convers of Engdine, MI.  Jeff Anderson survived.

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     Bill Hamilton 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 and was lost in the Gulf of Alaska 70 miles southeast of Yakutat.  Robert Ray of Puyallup, Washington was the only survivor of the nine man crew.  He was plucked from the 35 foot seas by a U S Coast Guard Helicopter and treated for mid stage hypothermia.  Lost were eight Washington men including skipper Jim Jerome of Seattle, first mate Karl Thorby of Arlington, second mate Steven Neff of Bothell, oiler Kenneth Blanchard of Seattle, deckhand Albert Spromberg of Seattle, cook Joe Terricone of Seattle, William Lambert of Okanogan and John Mitchell of Seattle.

December 3, 1983     Larry Rebo (25) of Tenakee and Tracy Anderson (22) of Sitka were lost when the crab fishing vessel Spirit was found submerged near Gustavus at Pleasant Island, 44 miles northwest of Juneau.

24 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.

  4. I was on deck with Mike, Dana, and Doug on the Golden Viking getting ready to set our first string of pots for opening day of the red crab season September 1st, 1983. Nick was in the galley cooking breakfast. Reider was the skipper, he made a turn to port and the starboard went under as the boat capsized. I climbed the stack of gear as the boat rolled. Mike ducked back in the passageway from the deck to the galley. I got knocked into the water, as the boat rolled I climbed the stack of gear. Nick was like a big brother to me. I still feel it every September.

  5. Please correct name to Larkin Breckenridge
    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 Vienhage, Brad Melvin, Mark Breckenridge, Troy Gudbranson and Randy Harvey.

  6. In 1982 i left juneau, i had a beautiful friend named Dobbs who I adored and left to go take care of an ill family member down south. I heard him and his crew went down at night, all were sleeping and perished, but I don’t know when or where or the name of the boat. I’d love to find out and be able to send my condolences and share some stories with his friends and family, if anyone knew Dobbs. What a beautiful young man.

    Also lost two friends in 1980 who overturned in kayaks heading out to horse island. They were a beautiful married couple. Us at the Fiddlehead in juneau really enjoyed their kind, fun, loving souls.

    1. I have no Dobbs in my records. My records are incomplete with only about half of the names but I work at it every day. I will keep an eye out as I research and spend a little extra time on losses of 1982 and 1983. If I find Dobbs I will let you know.

  7. Hey Cap
    Dobbs was really David Miller out of Meyers Chuck, Alaska. Two things happened concerning “Dobbs.” I can’t rely on my memory but I believe the first incident was on Dobb’s boat the Gem. Someone fell asleep and they hit Yakobi Island. One man was lost, a close friend of Dobbs and I remember him telling me about one night in Pelican as we stood on the boardwalk leaning on the railing. He had tears in his eyes. And then, while being towed in a different boat (I believe across the Gulf of Alaska) someone either fell asleep or there was a big swell or whatever but the boat being towed broached and rolled over and Dobbs and I think others drown. Dobbs little brother Ray got out through the hatch if my memory is correct. Like the lady said, Dobb’s was one of a kind.

  8. Cap
    I found your listing for David Miller and the loss of the Curlew so I had it backwards. Dobbs was towing a boat rather than the boat towing him apparently. I’m thinking now the rumor was the boat being towed went off to the left or right rolling the Curlew over. I could be wrong again.

  9. Looking for the name of the Coast Guard nurse who gave cpr to Misty Dawn Desmore when the Parks 15 was lost. I know Dr. Martin Nemeroff was on the helicopter piloted by Tom Walters. Walters put the helicopter down and let a wave carry Misty into the open door of the helicopter. Amazing flying. Before rescue swimmers.

    1. I found the article by Mike Rostad in which this quote “Luckily we had Dr. Nemiroff and Dee Ricard,” said Tom. They started applying CPR” mentions the nurse. I will try to send you the article.

  10. Just found this page after searching for Jeff Martin, of the Altair, lost Feb 14. There is a commemorative bench and plaque from his family near Anacortes, just across from Island in WA state. Have sat on this bench many times, thank you for sharing more info.

  11. 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.

    Correction: The tug Eagle had one survivor, my brother in law Robert Ray from Puyallup. He was the only one who was able to get into his survival gear as he was off shift and in his stateroom when the tug began to capsize. He was rescued by a coast guard chopper in approximately 50 foot seas. He has written a book, recently published and available from Amazon called “Darkness in the Light of Day”.

    1. Thank you for the information on the book. I am the person who hoisted your brother in law out of the water that day. Worst weather I have ever flown in. Hard to believe it is 38 years tomorrow that this took place.

  12. I’m looking to find out when a friend Kevin Clark from Washington along with captain and crew were lost . I can’t remember date or name of boat. Thank you in advance

    1. The 77 foot steel crab fishing vessel Saint George disappeared with all hands January 5, 1992 in the Bering Sea. The vessel departed Dutch Harbor January 2, 1992 for the crab grounds and was never seen again. An EPIRB and life raft were found 165 miles northwest of Cold Bay but no sign of the Saint George or her crew. Lost were skipper David C Parkes of Blaine WA, Terry James of Blaine WA, Brian Schouten of Blaine WA, Kevin Clark of Ferndale WA, George Dahl of Bellingham WA and Shawn McWethy of Soldotna.

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