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Arctic Rose investigators headed back to Unalaska

Posted: Thursday, July 19, 2001

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- The Coast Guard team investigating the sinking of the Arctic Rose was headed back to Unalaska Thursday after a disappointing setback.

Investigators Wednesday found the Arctic Rose at the bottom of the Bering Sea with the aid of a remote-controlled video camera.

But efforts to thoroughly explore the ship were foiled when the cable controlling the camera became hopelessly tangled in lines and snapped. The camera was lost in 450 feet of water, alongside the wreckage.

The Arctic Rose sank suddenly April 2, killing all 15 men on board. It was the worst commercial fishing disaster in Alaska waters in nearly two decades.

The camera worked for about an hour before the cable broke, so investigators were able to see some of the ship, which was sitting upright. But they had hoped for a better look at the trawl deck, hatches, watertight doors, rudder and stern.

The 155-foot Ocean Explorer, which carried the investigators to the site, is also equipped with sonar. The crew was able to get additional sonar images of the vessel, which may help investigators.

Capt. Ron Morris, chairman of the Coast Guard's board of investigation, said the video and sonar images will be analyzed, but it's not clear if they will provide clues to why the Arctic Rose sank. He said investigators may never know conclusively what caused the disaster.

Families of the men killed will be given an opportunity to view the video before it's released to the public.

The Ocean Explorer is due to arrive in Unalaska Friday afternoon.



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