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‘It’s Sinking. It’s Going Fast:’ Survivor Recounts Deadly Sinking Of F/V Scandies Rose

Scandies Rose. Photo: via Facebook.
Scandies Rose. Photo: via Facebook.

This story comes to us from Hope McKenney at KUCB in Unalaska. (

A note to listeners … This story includes intense descriptions of the sinking and may be upsetting to some.

It’s been just over a month since the F/V Scandies Rose sunk west of Kodiak.

Two fishermen were rescued wearing gumby survival suits in a life raft. The other five crew members – as well as their 130-foot crab boat – were never found.

While the U.S. Coast Guard is investigating the cause of the casualty …

KUCB’s Hope McKenney asked one of the survivors — for HIS account of what happened that night.

Click arrow below to listen to report or continue below to read it.

Dean Gribble grew up in Washington. He began salmon tendering when he was 11 years old, and he’s spent the past 21 years crab fishing.

“I was born a commercial fisherman. It’s in my blood. My dad and my family have all been in it. Kids grew up having football or baseball players as their heroes, and I had crabbers as my heroes.”

Gribble hadn’t planned to be on the Scandies Rose on New Year’s Eve. But a crew member quit in late December, and his friend, John Lawler asked him to fill in..

“John called me the 28th. I flew up the 29th. We left the 30th, which is my birthday. We sank the 31st. I was home on the 1st.” [:12]

Gribble describes it as a whirlwind: what happened between 10 p.m. on December 31st — when the crew hit the mayday button — and 2 a.m. on New Year’s Day, when he and Lawler were rescued by a Coast Guard rescue swimmer.

Gribble was woken up by Lawler yelling that the boat was going down.

He says the vessel was taking on ice and listing to the side…amid 30-foot seas, well-below-freezing temperatures, and 40 mph winds.

“I start passing out the suits to everybody. And we’re listing really hard at this point. I tried to get my suit on on the ground, and I couldn’t because I kept sliding down towards the starboard side. And I jumped up in the bench and they used the armrests as a foothold and I was able to get my suit on about halfway. And the armrest I was using broke. So I started sliding down.”

He finally got outside on the deck on his fourth try, and then the generator shut off and the lights cut out.

“Now it’s just loud. All you hear is the creaking of the steel. You know, the waves slamming into the boat, and it’s sinking. It’s going fast.”

Gribble helped Lawler get his gumby suit on, and they tied themselves together with a rope.

06Gribble_5 “And the other guys are running out of the boat. I’m screaming at these other guys. I’m screaming at them to get out of the boat, and they were trying. I was trying to find something to throw back in so they could use it maybe to climb out. I couldn’t find anything, cause everything was so icy…I couldn’t get anything. I couldn’t get anything… And the boat was going down.” [:40]

Gribble says he’s been involved in searches for lost crews before, and he didn’t have any hope that he and his crew mates would survive.

“I knew I was going to die. My main concern was just trying to get out so maybe they could get my body or something for my family to get closure.”

At that point, Gribble and Lawler jumped off the deck and into the water, as the rest of the crew remained on the boat.

“Now I’m alone in the dark, floating in 20, 30-foot seas. Just any fishermen’s nightmare. And I see the boat penciled. Straight up and down in the air. Bow straight up in the air. And then it sinks. My heart drops. I tried to do everything I could to get those guys out. I tried everything, I tried. I was screaming at them, you’ve got to get out of the boat!”

Then, Gribble saw a fluorescent life raft about 500 feet away, and he and Lawler swam to it.

Once inside, they bailed water and waited in the dark for about four hours, before the Coast Guard found them and took them to the hospital in Kodiak…where they were treated for hypothermia.

The rescuers say Gribble and Lawler wouldn’t have survived if it wasn’t for their suits and the life raft.

The search for the Scandies Rose and her remaining crew was suspended less than 24 hours later. It spanned more than 20 hours and 1,400 square miles, and included four helicopter crews, two airplane crews, and the Coast Guard Cutter Mellon.

The five missing fishermen are Gary Cobban, Jr., David Lee Cobban, Arthur Ganacias, Brock Rainey, and Seth Rousseau-Gano.

Dean Gribble is currently home with his family. He says it’s going to be awhile until he gets back out on a boat.

Officials with the Coast Guard say they don’t know yet — how long it’ll take to complete their investigation into the cause of the sinking.

The loss of the F/V Scandies Rose marks the Bering Sea crab fleet’s second-deadliest accident — since the 2017 capsizing of the F/V Destination, in which all six crew members were lost.

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