NTSB to Get Report on Alaska Ranger Disaster

Thousands of pages of documents and testimony have been released since the fishing trawler sank in the Bering Sea with 47 crew members aboard. Rescuers saved all but five of them.

The National Transportation Safety Board has scheduled a Sept. 30 meeting to consider adopting the accident report about a much-publicized maritime disaster -- the March 23, 2008, sinking of the 192-foot Alaska Ranger, a fishing trawler owned by an Alaska firm but catching fish for a Japanese company when it sank in the Bering Sea 125 miles west of Dutch Harbor, Alaska. The Japanese fish master aboard the ship, Satoshi Konno, was one of five fatalities; a Coast Guard cutter and two helicopters and a sister ship of the Ranger rescued 42 others from 20-foot seas.

Earlier this year, NTSB released numerous documents about the vessel and its sinking. Whether Konno wielded too much authority on the ship, and by extension how powerful Japanese fish masters are in the U.S. fishing fleet, are part of the scrutiny given to this tragedy by the Seattle Times, a Marine Board of Investigation inquiry, and NTSB, including pages 19-26 of this December 2008 interview in the NTSB docket with Capt. Bill McGill, who was then running operations for the ship's owner.

Rear Admiral Arthur "Gene" Brooks, commander of the Seventeenth Coast Guard District, called the incident "one of the most dramatic rescues in modern Coast Guard history" in remarks made at an awards ceremony for some of the Coast Guard rescuers, according to a May 2008 account in Coast Guard Journal.

In July 2009, 11 surviving crewmen agreed to out-of-court, confidential settlements of their claims against the ship's owner. The men were represented by the law firm Beard Stacey Trueb and Jacobsen, which also represented the family of a crewman who died.

The NTSB meeting will take place at the agency's conference center, 429 L'Enfant Plaza SW in Washington, D.C. It is open to the public and will be available via a webcast at www.ntsb.gov.

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