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Expert says boat probably flipped and sank quickly

Posted: Sunday, June 17, 2001

SEATTLE (AP) -- A veteran boat surveyor and builder believes the Seattle-based Arctic Rose flipped rapidly, then sank in the Bering Sea in a mysterious April 2 accident that killed all 15 men on board.

''Whatever had taken place had happened quickly,'' Carl Anderson testified this week in a hearing involving the Coast Guard and National Transportation Safety Board.

The Coast Guard and NTSB are trying to figure out the best explanation for the disappearance of the 92-foot fishing vessel. They have little evidence to go on because there are no witnesses, no survivors and no wreckage.

Anderson has inspected thousands of boats since 1969, including the Arctic Rose, then 13 years old, for insurers and owners in the summers of 1998 and 1999.

He said his first guesses about the cause of the accident stemmed from his knowledge of the Bering Sea, the empty survival suits discovered floating at the scene that indicated a surprise, and the fact that the boat was retrofitted with ballast to increase its stability.

Anderson and other experts have told the panel that the fact an undetermined amount of concrete and steel was added to the former shrimp boat's bilge when it was outfitted as a factory trawler indicates a stability problem.

Anderson said he isn't impressed with the lighter frames he usually finds in Gulf boats.

''The Gulf boats don't measure up to those constructed in the Northwest -- despite hundreds that come up here and function very well out there,'' he said. ''They're not constructed for the long haul.''

Typically, Northwest trawlers require a longer deck area for processing, and the Arctic Rose had a short, restricted area to work in, Anderson said.



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