‘Deadliest Catch’ Commercial Crab Boat Sinks at Seattle Pier

The partially sunk 91-foot crab vessel North American. Photo: U.S. Coast Guard.

U.S. Coast Guard officials are investigating the sinking of the 91-foot crab vessel f/v North American, which became submerged May 14 at a pier east of Ballard Bridge on the south side of the Lake Washington Ship Canal in Seattle.

It was unclear whether anyone was aboard the vessel at the time of the sinking, but no human casualties were reported by the Coast Guard. There were also no reports of injured wildlife or impacts to vessel traffic due to the incident.

The North American, one of the commercial crab fishing boats featured on the Discovery Channel series “Deadliest Catch,” had a maximum fuel capacity of 32,500 gallons of diesel. The Coast Guard opened the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund and contracted Global Dive and Salvage, an oil spill response company, to conduct clean-up operations.

As of last week, the Coast Guard was monitoring the progress of the response.  

Divers were deployed to plug vents and mitigate the discharge of additional product into the water. Two layers of containment boom was placed around the vessel.

While there was some sheen on the surface of the water, no estimate of the amount of diesel spilled had been determined. Responders planned to transfer the remaining product from the vessel to tanks on shore.

The cause of the sinking is under investigation, with Coast Guard officials saying that because of that, they were unable to confirm who the vessel’s current owner is.

The boat had previously been owned by Erling Skaar, a noted vessel master and technical innovator in North Pacific Fisheries, who died in July 2023 in Salem, Ore. after suffering two strokes. His sons Sten and John Skaar worked on the boat. Erling Skaar first launched the North American in 1975.