Searchers find wreckage of Arctic Rose in Bering Sea

Posted: Wednesday, July 18, 2001

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - Coast Guard investigators confirmed Wednesday they have located the wreckage of the fishing vessel Arctic Rose, which sank in the Bering Sea last April with 15 people aboard.

Using a sonar device towed behind a fishing trawler, the vessel was located early Wednesday more than 450 feet below the surface and about 200 miles northwest of St. Paul Island, said Capt. Ronald Morris of the Coast Guard Marine Board of Investigation.

An unmanned submarine with a camera reached the vessel at about 9:30 a.m. and clearly showed the vessel's name on the hull.

The Coast Guard sent the robotic camera down after a short memorial ceremony that included dropping a wreath over the Arctic Rose.

The 92-foot ship sank about 775 miles southwest of Anchorage on April 2. The only sign of trouble was a signal from the vessel's automatic emergency locator beacon. Only the body of the skipper, David E. Rundall, 34, has been recovered.

The vessel was operated by Arctic Sole Seafoods Inc. of Lynnwood, Wash.

It was the worst fishing disaster in Alaska waters since January 1982, when the Japanese trawler Akebono Maru capsized 50 miles north of Adak, killing 32 people.

Investigators left Unalaska in the Aleutian Islands on Sunday night on a chartered commercial fishing vessel and headed north into the Bering Sea.

The Coast Guard approved spending $200,000 for the search. The 155-foot pollock and cod trawler Ocean Explorer was already rigged for underwater surveys because it had just finished a 30-day research project on the effects of trawling on the Bering Sea floor.

The same sonar crew remains on board, saving time and money, said Morris, who extended the vessel's $6,300 daily contract with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration that included everything but fuel.

Steve Toomey, a member of the remote vessel crew with the shipwreck hunting company Maritime Consultants of Puyallup, Wash., said the search "might give some answers as to what happened, give a little closure to the families. Maybe we can do something to prevent it from happening again."

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