Coast Guard suspends search for crew of Seattle-based fishing vessel in Alaska’s Bering Sea

Jack Molan Photography

SEATTLE – The U.S. Coast Guard announced it has suspended the search for the crew of the fishing vessel Destination northwest of St. George, Alaska, Monday afternoon.

The Seattle-based boat Destination’s emergency beacon was found over the weekend near some of the boat’s life rings and a small oil slick.

The search continued through Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

“We extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends of the six crewmembers during this extremely difficult time,” said Rear Adm. Michael McAllister, Coast Guard 17th District commander. “The decision to suspend a search is always difficult and is made with great care and consideration.”

A Kitsap County woman said her husband is one of those missing men. Gail O’Grady was beside herself with worry Monday over her missing husband, Larry.

“He was one of the best men I ever met,” she said. “He’s got a lot of sad friends. I’ve not seen so many men cry.”

Gail O’Grady said her husband, Larry, has been a fisherman in Alaska for decades.

She got word the Destination went down Saturday morning. She was holding out hope for a miracle Monday.

“It’s like the next time the phone rings we’re going to find out they’re fine and they’re at a pier at a port,” she said.

The 95-foot-long Destination was traveling from Dutch Harbor to St. Paul Island in the Bering Sea to fish crab when its emergency beacon went off Saturday morning.

Since then, fishing boats and the U.S. Coast Guard have recovered some of the Destination’s nets, buoys and its beacon near an oil slick.

“He was one of the best,” said Gail. “II didn’t know anybody who didn’t meet him and like him. He always had a smile on his face and he always wanted to do the best he could.”

Flower bouquets are being left at the Seattle Fisherman’s Memorial, where dozens of plaques honor fishermen already lost at sea.

“It’s a treacherous area, it has its moments,” said former fisherman Jim Wells.

Wells said he used to fish for crab off Alaska’s coast and he remembers how dangerous the work was and how unforgiving the icy waters can be.

“You try to do everything you can to mitigate that, checking things, like I said, you get complacent and you get tired and stuff happens,” he said.

Meanwhile, Gail is holding onto hope for her husband Larry and the five other men missing at sea.

“When you leave someone, you have to let them know how much you love them and can’t wait to see them again,” she said.

The Coast Guard is spearheading the search both on the water and from the air but so far there hasn’t been any new sightings of debris.