Arctic Rose investigators wrap up Anchorage hearings

Posted: Friday, July 13, 2001

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- The Coast Guard panel investigating the sinking of the Arctic Rose wrapped up four days of hearings in Anchorage Thursday and will likely reconvene in Seattle in August to take more testimony.

The marine board of investigation is trying to learn how and why the Arctic Rose sank suddenly in the Bering Sea on April 2, killing all 15 men on board. The sinking was the worst commercial fishing disaster in Alaska waters in nearly two decades.

Capt. Ron Morris, who chairs the panel, says the board also hopes to learn how a similar tragedy can be prevented.

After concluding testimony, the four members of the board traveled to Fort Richardson to examine the survival suits found floating empty in the water in the hours after the 92-foot vessel disappeared.

The board plans to leave from Unalaska late Sunday or early Monday for a trip to the Bering Sea. There, the investigators will use sonar in an effort to locate the vessel.

The Arctic Rose is believed to be resting on the ocean floor in 450 feet of water, about 775 miles southwest of Anchorage. If investigators are able to locate it, they will use a remotely operated vehicle, equipped with a camera, to examine the vessel.

The investigators hope the pictures will give them a better idea of why the vessel sank.

The panel's report on the accident is due Oct. 1. But Morris said Thursday that, because the panel still has more evidence to examine and witnesses to hear from, the report won't likely be finished by then.

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