Sunday, April 20, 2008


Ex-captain grilled at hearing on Alaska Ranger sinking
Hal Bernton / Seattle Times staff reporter
Contact Hal Bernton: 206-464-2581 or
Saturday, April 19, 2008 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

Steve Slotvig is a burly veteran of the Bering Sea fisheries with a gold anchor earring and, as former captain of the Alaska Ranger, an insider's knowledge of the vessel and crew.

Slotvig said he quit the command March 5, less than three weeks before the Alaska Ranger sprung a stern leak and went down in the Bering Sea. His abrupt midseason departure was spurred by fatigue and a troubled relationship with a Japanese fishmaster.

"I needed the break. I had been up there a long time, and when he got angry with me, I asked to be put on another vessel," Slotvig testified to Coast Guard officials Friday in Seattle.

Slotvig is a high-profile witness in the marathon Marine Board of Investigation hearings into the circumstances surrounding the sinking that claimed the lives of five of the 47 crew aboard the factory trawler. The hearings began in Alaska on March 28.

His Friday testimony triggered some of the most testy, combative exchanges yet as Coast Guard investigators pressed Slotvig to describe the widespread ice during the winter fishing season and his relationship with fishmaster Satoshi Konno, a representative of Japanese seafood buyers who died when the vessel sank.

Konno's influence on the vessel has been a point of contention because federal laws require licensed American captains such as Slotvig to be in command. Seattle-based Fishing Company of Alaska, which operated the Alaska Ranger, has fishmasters assisting American captains to find and catch fish.


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