The Scandies Rose Met an Untimely End, but Why Did the 'Deadliest Catch' Vessel Sink?

2020 started with a tragedy that mostly 'Deadliest Catch' fans and the Alaskan crabbing community knew about: Here's what happened to Scandies Rose.

Mustafa Gatollari - Author

Apr. 4 2022, Updated 3:28 p.m. ET

scandies rose
Source: Discovery

Deadliest Catch didn't get its name because crab fishing is all fun and games. The show earned its moniker because the Alaskan crustacean-gathering business is a brutal one. There have been several vessels that have appeared on the program that have ultimately perished. Even more tragic is that, in a lot of these accidents, the crew members don't make it out alive.

Unfortunately, this is what happened to the F/V Scandies Rose.

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The crew members aboard the ship were tightly associated with the Alaskan crab fishing community, which included several fishermen who were featured on the popular Discovery channel program, Deadliest Catch. In total, there were seven people on the Scandies Rose. Sadly, only two of the crew members survived the sinking.

What happened to Scandies Rose?

On Tuesday night, Dec. 31, 2019, at around 10 p.m., the vessel sank about 170 miles southwest off the coast of Kodiak Island. The U.S. Coast Guard caught the boat's distress signal, but the conditions were devastating. With winds clocking in at 60 miles per hour and almost zero visibility, Coast Guard officers had little to no hope of finding any members of the seven-person crew.

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Miraculously, the responders were able to spot two life rafts on the water. One was empty, while another contained two crew members. After rescuing the duo of surviving fishermen, the coast guard questioned the two men, Jon Lawler and Dean Gribble Jr. They were able to get into "survival suits" which help to protect against hypothermia, and put themselves into a life raft. Sadly, they don't know if any of the other crew members were able to take the same measures.

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Captain Gary Cobban Jr. and several others were lost on the Scandies Rose.

Gary was a longtime Alaskan fisherman who had huge ties to the local community. The 60-year-old was on board the vessel with his 30-year-old son, David, 31-year-old Seth Rosseau-Gano, 50-year-old Arthur Ganacias, and 47-year-old Brock Rainey.

The MH-60 Jayhawk Helicopter couldn't reach the distress call soon enough to save these men and late into the evening the following day, they suspended searching for them.

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All in all, the coast guard searched for 20 hours. Sadly, in those conditions, the chances of survival are slim to none for extended periods of time. To put it into perspective, a human being has less than 15 minutes before passing out in water temperatures of 32.5 Fahrenheit. That time is drastically reduced in even colder temperatures. In 50-60 degree temperature water? Maybe 1-2 hours.

The 130-foot boot was built in 1978 and saw tons of crabbing seasons, but it sank on the first night the men decided to go out and kick off the new year by catching some crabs.

Dean spoke about the horrifying experience with National Fisherman, and from the way he tells it, it's a miracle that he and Jon were able to make it out alive.

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"We just started listing really hard on the starboard side. From sleeping to swimming was about 10 minutes... It happened really fast. Everybody was trying, everybody was trying to get out, everybody was trying to do everything they could, and it was just a really s----y situation. We’re in 20-foot seas, it’s blowing 40, icing conditions, worst possible conditions. I’ve fished for 20 years, I know you do not make it. Everybody can die in those situations, and I knew that was what we were going into."

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He continued, "We were in the raft for like five hours or so. Our EPIRB didn’t go off, so that sucked." He also hinted at issues with some other safety equipment that was aboard the Scandies Rose.

"I just wish the other guys had made it. I feel bad that I’m here and they’re not," Dean said.

Freezing spray, inclement weather conditions, and "icing" is what ultimately did the vessel in.

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Icing is when water freezes upon contact with a vessel, which could cause uneven weight distributions in the water. This, coupled with extreme weather conditions and choppy water, could cause a boat to veer off course or get sideways. Many believe the icing, although not a worry among some seasoned fishermen, is what ultimately did the Scandies Rose and five of its crew members in.

Tragically, Jon Lawler died almost one year after the sinking of the Scandies Rose.

Although Jon Lawler was one of the two crew members who made it to safety from the Scandies Rose, another tragedy struck nearly one year later on Oct. 31, 2021, when Jon was killed in a motorcycle accident. According to a GoFundMe campaign set up following his death, he was preceded in death by his baby son James, who died shortly after the Scandies Rose accident. He leaves behind his wife, Brianna.

Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the Scandies Rose crewmembers who were lost.

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