Alaska Commercial Fishing and other Maritime Losses of 1980

January 15, 1980     The 110 foot crabber Gemini iced up, rolled over and sank 150 miles south southeast of Cold Bay on the way to Dutch Harbor from Seattle. Crewmen Eric Mills, Mark McKinnin and Wayne Sheuffele were rescued from a life raft after more than four days in 20 foot seas.  Captain Roy O’Harrow and Steve Holden were lost with the Gemini.

January 22, 1980     The 40 foot vessel Deliverance overturned and sank off of Marmot Island with David Dowie as the sole survivor.  Lost were Charles Cochran and Butch Miller.

February 4, 1980     The 110 foot Pacific Trader rolled over and sank north of Unimak Island in the Bering Sea.  Crewmen Greg Schubauer and Jack Sulbroce were picked up by the Provider. Lost were captain Ben Paz, Ken Morse and Carry Commack.

February 26, 1980     Professional diver Dennis LeCours was lost while diving on the vessel Mariner at the Channel Transient Float in Kodiak.

March 17, 1980     The crab fishing vessel Norel disappeared with all hands.  The vessel was presumed to have foundered near Cape Saint Elias.  Lost were Joseph Gurske, Roseanna Nasello and John Estrada.

March 29, 1980     Scott Pickering of Seattle was the sole survivor when the 85 foot Capella overturned suddenly while anchored off Fox Island south of Cold Bay.  Lost were captain Finney Berg, Auggie Berg, Jack Fink and Bob Conley.  The vessel had been holed on the rocks two days earlier and been towed to an anchorage by the tanker Alaska Standard.

April 2, 1980     Captain Rick Laws was the lone survivor when the 60 foot Cloverleaf rolled over and sank  near Sutwick Island, 150 miles SW of Kodiak Island.  The vessel was on a trip from Kodiak to Chignik.  Lost were Wink Cissell and Kim Hanlin.

May 19, 1980     The fishing vessel Francis K was lost with all four crewmembers 25 miles southeast of Yakutat. Lost with the vessel were John Holgate Jr. (20), Ron Tseifser (25-30), Tom Bears (20) and Tracy Beach (24) all from Haines.

June 14, 1980     Skipper Cory Kaldestad (62) was lost when the 93 foot fishing vessel Michael Lee foundered near Clarks Point in Bristol Bay.  Four other crewmembers were rescued by the Soviet processing ship Soyuz V.

July 31, 1980    Fishermen Jeff Deirich, Carl Carlson, Les Russel and Steve Alvine were lost in a plane crash near Spiridon Lake on Kodiak Island.

August 11, 1980     The fishing vessel King James was found abandoned near the Seal Bar marker near Egg Island on the Copper River Delta with one crewman lost.

September 21, 1980     Crewmember John Luke Challik of Kodiak was washed overboard and lost off of the Polar Sea 110 miles N of Akutan.

October 16, 1980     Skipper Hector Allan of the vessel Debbie Wines fell overboard and was lost near Old Harbor.

October 17, 1980     Skipper Gene Doudy was lost when the fishing vessel Cherokee sank in Behm Canal. Two crewmembers were picked up from the vessel’s life raft by the tug Edith Olson.

November 19, 1980     Three crewmembers were lost when the Japanese fishing vessel Tomi Maru No 52 sank after a collision with the Japanese fishing vessel Tomi Maru No 51 approximately 100 miles west of Adak Island in the Aleutians.

November 19, 1980     The 75 foot wooden trawler Commander was lost with all hands on a trip from Kodiak to Seattle.  She was last seen 30 miles off of Cape Spencer heading into 30-35 foot swells and 80 knot winds. Lost were Phil Edwards Sr, his son Phil Edwards Jr, his brother John Edwards and his nephew Sam Bissett.

November 22, 1980     Crewman Robert Laceon from the vessel Taasinge was lost and is believed to have fallen overboard near Yakutat Bay.

23 Replies to “Alaska Commercial Fishing and other Maritime Losses of 1980”

  1. Captain Good, R/E the Capella March 29, 1980. Ogie Berg was the Captain, Finney Berg, his older brother. They were family friends of my late father. The owner of the vessel, was Peter Evich, he was also our Marine Insurance Agent. I saw the vessel in Everett a couple of years earlier (I stopped in to have my shrimp outrigger fixed). It looked like it was being worked on at the time. I remember Peter telling me of his vessel, and looking for someone to run it. Don’t really know how they hooked up. The former owner(Mr. Sjodin, ), had inquired after my Step-Father(Arvid Svendsen, an experienced Longline Fisherman) a few years earlier before Peter bought the vessel

    1. I have several newspaper stories about the loss of the Capella but they are inaccurate and the story of what actually happened is not clear. Apparently the tanker American Standard was assisting the Capella when she was lost. It sounded like the tanker had anchored in rough weather and the Capella had a line tethered to her. The news says Ogie Berg was the owner which is not correct; as you said, Peter E Evich of Edmonds, WA was. Also the news has the vessel length once as 45 feet and another time as 100 feet. Her registered length was 72 feet. I see I have that wrong in my records and will correct it. I can recall seeing the Capella around when I was fishing out of Kodiak. I think I also saw her down in Dutch Harbor when I was fishing out of there. I just looked through my pictures and could not find one of the Capella, but I think I have one somewhere. I am trying to put together an “encyclopedia” of Alaska Shipwrecks and want to have as many pictures of boats and people as I can find. Many people have sent me pictures but there are thousands that I still need. Thank you for remembering. RIP Ogie, Finny, Bob and Jack.

        1. Thanks for the link. I am always interested in litigations, arbitrations and hearings. This one was very informative. I had never heard the whole story. I looked up the Capella in the U S Merchant Vessels Lists and she was built in Jacksonville, Florida in 1963. Peter Evich was the original owner. I will be updating my writings with all the new information shortly. Smooth Sailing…

  2. Yes, I got this from the Small Shipbuilders websites( I’m interested in where all these vessels were built)
    I punch in the name as “Fishing vessel Capella” and get a Maritime-Connector hit:
    The smaller shipyards are listed in these websites.
    I am really shocked at all the vessels I never knew that were lost. I’ve made up my own list of the vessels and people I knew. Thanks so much for your service.

  3. I’m having some trouble finding more information about the Commander, that went down in November 1980. That was 6 1/2 years before I was born, but I’ve heard the story, and somehow I thought there were more people aboard. Phil and John Edwards were my dad’s first cousins. I’m just curious to hear the story from a source that isn’t reminiscing about lost family and friends.

    1. I listed the basic information of the tragic loss of the Commander on here as it was reported by the Coast Guard and later in the paper. I have the Seattle news story that goes into more detail and will email it to you. Sorry for your family’s loss.

      1. I am interested in getting this newspaper article about the Commander. I was Kim Bisset’s sister in law back in 1980 and was quite overtaken by this loss. My mom and I would take calls from her and she said that she could not sleep at night and walked the hall way because of such anxiety.

        1. Tami, I will send you a copy of the Commander article from 1980. If you still have contact with any of Sam Bissett’s relatives you might let them know that NAMUS (National information clearinghouse and resource center for missing, unidentified, and unclaimed person cases across the United States) and the Alaska State Troopers are collecting DNA. There are cases where remains have been found from shipwrecks but DNA from a family member must be on file in order to identify them. Have them contact me at [email protected] and I will give them the contact information and explain the process. It is simple and cost free from what I have heard.

    2. Christopher,
      I’m attempting to contact relatives of those lost on the Commander. If you see this please reach out. Captain Warren Good can explain more of what I’m doing and provide my email address.

    1. The following is the entry in my books for the Commander: The 75 foot wooden trawler Commander disappeared with all hands November 21, 1980 on the way from Seattle to Kodiak with four persons on board. The vessel was last seen 30 miles off of Cape Spencer heading into 30‐35 foot swells and 80 knot winds. Wreckage was spotted on the beach 27 miles south of Yakutat. Lost were four family members including Philip Edwards and his son Philip Jr., his brother John Edwards and his nephew Sam Bissett, all from Seattle.

      The information I have came from the November 23, 1980 article in the Seattle Times. Sorry for your loss.

  4. Thank you for the information. My brother was Samuel Bisset , one of the lost crew of the Commander. I was not aware that wreckage had been found.
    Thanks again.
    Kim Bisset

    1. Thank you for responding and sorry for your loss. If you could contact me at [email protected] it would be very helpful. The odds of the person who drifted into Hawaii in 1982 being from a boat lost in Alaska are slim, but it is possible. With the evidence we have, we are attempting to eliminate those who it could have been. In the process, information is filed that may help identify a lost mariner should anything else be discovered in the future.

  5. I knew Hector Allen who was lost off the shrimper Debbie Wines.
    Hector came up with the Gulf of Mexico shrimpers to fish out of Astoria and Warrington Oregon.
    I made one trip on the Debbie Wines as a favor to my friend.
    Hector was a black man and everyone on the waterfront called him nigger Allen, with no disrespect ,just the way it was back then.

    1. Yes Hector was a real character. I understand he got caught in the rigging and was pulled overboard. Believe his boat was a wooden Desco……Gulf double rigger…
      I worked on one of the Bender ‘pumpkin’ boats during that time period up until the time the shrimp and King Crab fishing collapse….

  6. Captain Good…do you have info on the crew rescued from a crabber Oregon Dawn. I think it sank in Feb 1980 in or around Pavlof Bay?

    1. You have probably seen the entry from my books:
      OREGON DAWN (1980) The 98 foot crab fishing vessel Oregon Dawn rolled over on her starboard side and sank February 17, 1980 approximately 2.5 miles south of Cape Tolstoi near Pavlof Bay. Winds were said to be NNW gusting to 75-80 miles an hour. There were 65 crab pots aboard at the time of the disaster. All five crewmembers were rescued by the fishing vessel Patience.
      Mapping and Location: South Central Alaska 55 22 20 N 161 28 W Chart 16011
      Additional Information: Built Mobile, AL 1979, ON 614576
      Sources: 1. Unofficial Wreck List (Kodiak), 2. BOEM Alaska Shipwreck List (2011)
      I have also spoken to Randy Beuter, one of the survivors. I looked in the file and there is a newspaper article that mentions the Oregon Dawn and how the crew thought that there should be survival suit drills because a couple of them had difficulty donning their suits before they entered the life raft. I can find more articles if you would like…

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