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The Destination investigation: 4 FAQs on what's coming up

The crabbing community continues to mourn the tragic deaths of six fishermen aboard the F/V Destination last winter in the Bering Sea. The vessel was lost a few miles off St. George Island on February 11.

The Coast Guard has begun an investigation into what exactly happened to the crab boat and its crew. In this post, we will update you on where that investigation stands.

What procedure will be used for the investigation?

After calling off the search for the vessel and the six crewmembers on board, the Coast Guard began an investigation at the highest possible level by convening a Marine Board of Investigation.

A Marine Board of Investigation is a special inquiry board that is only convened for the worst types of vessel disasters. In other words, the Destination investigation has the same procedure used in other high-profile cases, such as the El Faro and the Exxon Valdez.

Who is leading the investigation?

The Coast Guard has brought in a team of investigators with experience at the highest level. Commander Scott Muller will be leading the investigation.

What will the investigators be looking for?

The investigation team will be working to retrace the Destination's movements up to the time it was lost.

This will include interviews with the vessel's owners in Seattle, as well as anyone in Unalaska/Dutch Harbor who interacted with crew members before they shipped out. There are also plans to interview the captain of the F/V Polar Sea, which was fishing for crab near the Destination on the night the Destination disappeared.

Investigators are also trying to determine the location of the wreck. This would include surveying it with a remote-control vehicle and possibly sending divers down to learn more.

Will the findings of the investigation be released to the public - and if so, when?

In conjunction with the investigation, the Coast Guard plans to hold public hearings on the loss of the Destination.

In due course, there will be two reports on the findings of the investigation. The National Transportation Safety Board will also be participating in the investigation and will produce a separate report from the Coast Guard's board.

The investigators have 12 months from the accident to complete their reports, so we can expect to see any conclusions by next February, the one-year mark since the Destination was lost, unless the board asks for an extension. If their reports conclude that anyone's misconduct contributed to the accident, the Coast Guard District Commander can continue the investigation beyond the one-year mark.

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