LA PUSH, Wash. — Fog, fatigue and an “unfamiliarity with safety issues” factored into a pre-dawn collision between two fishing vessels that left a Port Angeles man dead in September 2012, according to a new report from Canadian officials.
The Transportation Safety Board of Canada released its findings last week into the crash between the 40-foot Maverick, home ported in LaPush, and the 90-foot Viking Storm, out of Vancouver, B.C., the Peninsula Daily News reported.
The vessels collided in heavy fog 35 miles west of LaPush, a small community on the Pacific Coast of the Olympic Peninsula.
Three of the four crew members of the Maverick abandoned the sinking vessel and were rescued by the crew of the Viking Storm crew within five minutes. But a fourth crew member, 33-year-old Kelly Dickerson, was trapped in the Maverick.
The report said the Maverick had been drifting overnight without a crew member on lookout duty. Meanwhile, the exhausted mate of the Viking Storm “had not maintained a proper watch” and “left the wheelhouse unattended just prior to the collision.”
Looking through a window in the Maverick’s washroom, a deckhand noticed the other ship’s lights, but they were so bright in the fog that he couldn’t immediately tell how close it was. By the time he saw the wake from the Viking Storm’s bow and began shouting, it was too late.
At the same time, the mate of the Viking Storm returned to the wheelhouse and noticed the Maverick about 100 feet directly ahead.
The mate slammed the main engine into full reverse and made a hard starboard turn, but within seconds, the Viking Storm T-boned the Maverick’s port side. The Maverick rolled onto its starboard side and flooded.
No sound signals were used by either vessel despite the heavy fog.
The U.S. Coast Guard has not released findings on the collision. Coast Guard officials estimated that visibility was about 40 feet on the morning the accident.
Dickerson’s father, Darby Dickerson of Port Angeles, was among the three survivors.
The Viking Storm had a full load of 130 tons of hagfish caught in Canadian waters that it was taking to Grays Harbor when the collision occurred.
Both vessels had radar.