USCG hearing on capsize of Mary B II


The CG is holding a hearing this week (5/12/19-5/17/19) regarding the sinking of the Mary B II this last January. The crew of three perished.

Seastate was not favorable for a bar crossing. The hearing information lists 12-14 ft swells, occasional 16 ft breaking waves that day, though other CG reports said breaking waves to 20 ft. The bar was deemed Restricted by the USCG station at the time, but not closed. Generally, the USCG considers bar crossings Rough at 4ft and more ( 33 USC 165.1325: has all the info).
Four other crab boats crossed into Newport that afternoon and evening.

Monday’s testimony included post-mortem toxicology results which showed Captain Biernacki with alcohol at 0.033 g/dl and methamphetamine at 0.5 mg/l.
For context, according to Google:
“0.03 g/dL – May feel a slight buzz, but without having trouble talking, seeing, or keeping your balance.”; “Blood concentrations ranging from 0.15 to 0.56 mg/L have been reported in methamphetamine abusers showing . . . irrational behavior and from 0.05 to 2.6 mg/L in individuals arrested for erratic driving.”
Apparently, post-mortem meth levels increase in concentration about 1.5 times.

Witness testimony of the Captain’s appearance and manner before going fishing was also not flattering.

I hope testimony from CG personnel will cover what radio communication occurred between the Mary B and the Yaquina station, or any of the other vessels that crossed (or chose not to) that evening.


Also, I’m curious as to how much the two USCG vessels on scene as escorts could obscure the entrance range lights.


That’s the same as 0.03[3] % as commonly quoted in driving laws in the US.


The hearing concluded last Friday. I listened to a fair bit of it. Range lights were not obscured.
Data from an onshore radar showed the fishing vessel head into the north jetty rocks and shoaling as it approached the channel entrance simultaneous to arrival of a large swell set. Was there a loss of propulsion, did the captain not compensate for the long shore current, did the captain reduce throttle or lose situational awareness? Fatigue and lack of local operation experience probably played a role, too.
Investigation conclusion should be done by October.


Captain had a huge chip on his shoulder. I’d be surprised if that didn’t enter into it.