Brother of lost fisherman tells investigators about pressures of commercial fishing

By: Graham Johnson

Updated:

Two days before the fishing vessel Destination disappeared in the Bering Sea with six crew members aboard, Dylan Hatfield met up with the crew in Dutch Harbor, Alaska.

Hatfield previously worked on the Destination.

His brother, Darrik Seibold, took his place and was among those lost at sea.

"I personally worked with every single man," Seibold told Coast Guard investigators who are looking into the February sinking of the boat.

Hatfield said when he came off another boat and met the Destination's crew, "the boys were pretty beat down. It was a pretty grueling cod season" with 24-hour work shifts.

The crew was switching seasons, from cod to crab, and they were behind schedule for a delivery.

Over dinner at the Norwegian Rat Saloon, Hatfield said, "I was all giddy and excited and it was a table full of long faces."

The Destination sank Feb. 11 near the Pribilof Islands.

A three-day search turned up only an emergency beacon, which was automatically triggered, and a life ring.

Lost at sea were captain Jeff Hathaway, engineer Larry O'Grady, Charles Glenn Jones, Kai Hamik, Raymond Vincler and Hatfield's brother, Darrik Seibold.

NOAA surveyors found the boat last month in 240 feet of water.

A Coast Guard remote-operated vehicle then took underwater video of the sunken vessel, which will be shown publicly for the first time next week in the hearing about the Destination's sinking.

It's unclear why the Destination sank.

One possibility is that it became top-heavy when coated with icy spray.

Investigators showed Hatfield a GPS track of the boat before the sinking, which included a couple of periods during which the boat veered off course.

“Those irregularities do raise some red flags with me," Hatfield said. "I'd really like to know what happened or why they had to jog there. I would say that's not normal."

Hatfield also raised concerns about the incredible pressure placed on workers in the commercial fishing industry by boat and quota owners to make market delivery dates.

He described grueling work, sometimes with stretches of up to 48 hours without sleep.

"I think the race for fish needs to come to an end," Hatfield said.

The Coast Guard is gathering facts on the sinking, and plans to release a report outlining the probable causes by February 2018, one year after the Destination went down.


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