"Mayday, mayday! Catastrophic dire failure!" Captain Ken Kerr can be heard yelling in a trailer for the Discovery Channel show. Fellow miner, Emily Riedel (captain of The Eroica), then says, "This is history right here. This is the end of the Myrtle Irene." So, what happens to the excavator dredge?
Did Myrtle Irene sink on 'Bering Sea Gold'?
You’ll have to wait until the series starts airing again to see what Ken’s distress call was all about, but it’s not the first time the Myrtle Irene crew has found themselves in an unfortunate predicament.
In 2018, the mining vessel was damaged as team members attempted to pull it out of the water. "The frickin’ back of the barge is on the ground," Ken told the camera. "Our back end’s hitting the bottom now. We’re sunk."
It was revealed that "over 75,000 gallons of water rushed in through an open hatch" as backhoes tried to get it safely on land. "When temperatures plunge overnight, all that water will freeze and expand, putting insurmountable pressure on the hull and causing the Myrtle Irene to burst at the seams," a voiceover explained.
Though the sinking caused Ken and his crew plenty of problems, it ultimately led the captain to make some much-needed improvements to the barge.
The Myrtle Irene dredge owner's upgrades cost over $1 million.
The vessel returned to the water a year later revamped and raring to go. "It’s like starting over with a brand new Myrtle," Ken said. "You fire everything up, get everything rockin’ and rollin’, slam [the bucket] down through the water, and dig it up for the first scoop. It’s pretty exhilarating."
That season, Ken and the Myrtle Irene managed to dethrone "Mr. Gold," Shawn Pomrenke, by bringing in a larger haul. Their first trip out netted 111.7 ounces of gold, which is worth over $134,000.
Unfortunately, the Myrtle Irene didn’t have a scandal-free 2019. In December, two high school students sued Ken’s company, Arctic Sea Mining LLC, after they were injured in a car accident involving a steel cable attached to the dredge.
According to the complaint, the teens’ vehicle struck the cable, which connected a loader to the Myrtle Irene, on a road in Nome, Alaska. "The cable that they hit came over the front of their car and basically leveled the cab, not completely but it mangled the cab… So it was not a pretty sight," one of the minor’s attorneys stated.
"It was a significant accident, and both of them suffered blows to the head of varying degrees. And the progress of the recovery is uncertain at this time."
The plaintiffs claim Arctic Sea Mining failed to warn them of the cable’s presence and are seeking $100,000. The current status of the case is unknown.
New episodes of Bering Sea Gold air Fridays, beginning May 15, at 8 p.m. ET on Discovery Channel.