|KING AND WINGE, 1962.|
Captain J. Edward Shields wrote about the famous fishing vessel KING AND WINGE for the March 1994 issue of The Sea Chest published by the Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society, Seattle, WA. Following the printing he heard word about the loss of this famous fishing vessel in the Bering Sea. Here is his update from the June issue.
"I received word that this fine vessel was lost 23 February 1994, a short distance southwest of St. Paul Island. I spoke with the owner, Richard Maher of Homer, AK. He stated that at the time of the sinking, the weather was moderately rough, the seas were only 15 to 17 ft high, and the wind was squalling at times to nearly 60-MPH.
This vessel, designed and constructed in 1914, had a four-man crew. Maher was not on board at the time. They were fishing for king crab and tanner crab in 59 fathoms of water. She had the galley and fo'c's'le in the bow under the main deck. She had a large saltwater tank in the forward hold for keeping the crabs alive. The weight of this saltwater tank made her ride fairly low in the water.
Somehow, when she shipped a large sea, the door to the fo'c's'le/galley was smashed, with the sea flooding this forward compartment. Debris was floating everywhere, consisting of clothing, blankets, all the contents of the refrigerator (which was knocked over), food, and whatever else was loose.
The vessel did not have watertight bulkheads or separate bilge suctions to the engine room pumps. The bulkhead was, however, nearly tight, and the limber holes did not allow the water to flow aft. Consequently, the bow sank low, and the installed pumps were not effective. Portable pumps were secured from nearby vessels, including the USCG. However, with all the debris sloshing around, the pump strainers were constantly plugged and would not remove the water.
Seas crashed over the low deck, causing additional flooding and slowly the vessel sank, bow first.
The KING AND WINGE had been employed in longline fishing prior to the opening of the king crab season, and the operations were successful, catching halibut whenever the season was open. At other times they were catching black cod and other bottom fish. she had a nearly new Caterpillar series 3408 V-8 Diesel engine of 365 HP, that gave her a cruising speed of about ten knots with a relatively low hourly consumption of fuel. Thus, her operating costs were low compared to the other vessels in the fleet with larger engines.
At the time of the loss, there was no insurance on the vessel. Richard Maher stated that insurance companies were not willing to insure any vessel of her age. In the week she was lost, two other larger vessels sank in the same area. Two others sank earlier in 1994 after the opening of the crab season on 15 January. It was very fortunate the four-man crew of the KING AND WINGE all had time to slip into survival suits, to step off into the life raft, and then to be rescued by another vessel."
Text by Captain J. Edward Shields for the Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society, quarterly journal, The Sea Chest, June 1994.