“Deadliest Catch” Commercial Crab Boat Sinks at Seattle Pier

The partially sunk 91-foot crab vessel f/v North American. Photo courtesy of 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 and response 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 produce into the water and two layers of containment boom was placed around the vessel.

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

As of 2023, the boat was owned by Erling Skaar, a noted vessel master and technical innovators in North Pacific Fisheries, who died in July 2023, in Salem, Oregon, after suffering two strokes. His sons Sten and John Skaar, worked on the boat. Erling Skaar first launched the North American crabber in 1975.

The cause of the sinking is under investigation. Coast Guard officials said that since the incident is under investigation, they were unable to confirm the name of the vessel’s current owner.