Friday, September 21, 2012

Before the Deadliest Catch: Part Four - "Connecting the Dots"

Editors Note: To appreciate the flow of "Before the Deadliest Catch," here is the suggested reading order:

Part 1 - Back story on the history of the Deep Sea in relation to the King Crab fishery. 
Part 2 - Begins the narrative "Saga of the Deep Sea" as written by my Dad. 
Part 3 - Conclusion of "Saga of the Deep Sea."
Part 4 - Connecting the Dots

The subsequent life and times of the Deep Sea are unknown to me. Once my Dad returned to tug boats, the past became the past.

[ I have heard from at least two folk who worked on the Deep Sea. I would like them to contact me and perhaps share their experiences here in Oil-Electric.]

As I wrote in Part One, I was gobsmacked to learn that not only the Deep Sea was "still around," but that she burned and sank about 8 miles from me, as the crow flies.

So here is what I  have learned about how the Deep Sea ended up on a mooring buoy at Penn Cove, where she languished, much to the consternation of the residents of Coupeville, Washington, and the owners of Penn Cove Shellfish, where the derelict was close aboard.

As I understand it, a fellow by the name of Rory Westmoreland, a Renton (Washington State) scrap dealer, bought the 65-year-old  Deep Sea through a Craigslist ad posted by the Port of Seattle. The Port seized the Deep Sea in 2010 after the previous owner, Factotum Fisheries, fell six months behind in moorage fees at Fisherman's Terminal in Ballard Washington.

Washington State has a derelict vessel removal program.

While the State had contacted Mr. Westmoreland, and began sanctions against him, the vessel caught fire and sank, May 12-13, 2012. She ended up resting at approximately 60 feet.

This was the scene at Penn Cove, Sunday afternoon June 3rd, 2012. Two General Construction Company (Seattle) barge cranes, one 300-ton capacity, the other 100-ton capacity, tended by the Island Tug & Barge (Seattle) Island Voyager, are struggling to lift the Deep Sea from the muddy bottom of Penn Cove.

A dive tender - Prudhoe Bay - from Global Diving & Salvage was alongside. She was the primary support vessel from which the team of divers operated. They burrowed under the Deep Sea using high-pressure water jets to burrow beneath the vessel.  Chains were past under the hull, creating slings under the bow and stern to accomplish the lift.

You can see why there was such concern about the livelihood of the muscle farm. The darned vessel was anchored close abeam!

There were many people lining the bluff, with cars parked precariously on a basic road with no shoulders. A least one TV station, had a microwave truck set up, and the normally peaceful Penn Cove was insulted with a variety of news choppers circling overhead.


Birchfield Shipbuilding & Boiler Company built the Deep Sea. Birchfield was located on the west side of the Blair Waterway, in the port of Tacoma Washington. Birchfield made cast iron, steel tube and steel scotch marine boilers, and a variety of small craft. Deep Sea built for: 

• Deep Sea Trawlers, Inc. 
• Year: 1947
• IMO: 6506226
• Length: 128 feet
• Beam: 26.5 feet
• Gross Tonnage: 197

•  Birchfield Shipbuilding and Boiler Company, Tacoma Washington, went out of business in the early 60's.

•  Lowell Wakefield passed away in 1977. However, a mountain on Afognak Island memorializes him.

•  The Deep Sea was consumed by fire and sank in Penn Cove, Whidbey Island, May 12-13, 2012. As of this writing, the cause of the fire has not been made public. There was no one living aboard at the time of the fire.

•  Wednesday June 7, the 2,250 hp Taurus (Dunlap Towing, Seattle) passing through Hiram Chittenden Locks in Seattle, delivering the Deep Sea to Stabbert Maritime Yacht & Ship in Ballard Washington for dismantling.

 •  June 13.  Work began to dismantle the Deep Sea.

•  July 20.  Final piece of hull lifted out of the dry dock.

And so an important vessel in Pacific Northwest maritime history is gone. Built as the first trawler for the Alaskan King Crab fishery, and soon converted to become the first floating King Crab processing vessel. Played a major role in bringing representatives together from the United States, Russia and Japan for the purpose of establishing harvesting boundaries and regulations.

How fortunate for us that my Dad took that posting. I am very pleased to share his story with you.

Finally, I appreciate access granted to photos by Larry Altos, Washington State Department of Ecology. Without the photos, I could never have visualized this story so completely.

4 Comments - Click here: said...

Thank you so much for your thoughtful and caring historical account of the 'Deep Sea'. The photo's clarity and color are so vivid and fresh and probably presented in better color than the original pictures. I'm sure you spent many hours for this meticulous presentation. Well worth it! As usual, the accounts of ships during this era end, leaving a misty eyed, sadness for the begone era. Thanks for bringing it all the life one last time.

Ross said...

Did you miss the announcement of the Federal Arson invistigation in early September? King 5 has the best summery I could find to post at .

Marian Ann Love said...

Enjoyed reading the adventures of your Dad on the Deep Sea! A nice tribute to him. Everything, it seems, must come to an end...even the ships that sail the seas.

Mary Ratcliff said...

Thank you for this treasure trove! I'm Lowell Wakefield's firstborn, known as Molly as a youngster. My two brothers, Dave of Anchorage and Dan of Seattle, were deeply involved in Wakefield Fisheries and related pursuits. For ease of contact, we're all on Facebook: Dave Wakefield, Daniel Wakefield and Mary Ratcliff (that's me), or email me at My dream is that someone will put a full history together some day and that my brothers and I will be around to help. You've gone a long way down that road with this amazing compilation. This story from your dad's time on the Deep Sea describes a period of progress and high hopes -- for a successful business, wise king crab management and conservation, and cordial relations among fishermen and nations in the North Pacific. Sadly, those hopes eventually sank just like the Deep Sea this past May (which is news -- sad news -- to me, though she still looks stately in that Ballard dry dock). I could go on and on, you've brought back so many wonderful memories, but I must get back to work. We have a community newspaper, and deadlines are always looming. Anyone who'd like to trade memories, information or ideas for what we could do with it is more than welcome to get in touch.

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