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Inside The Tragic Capsizing Of A Crab Boat Featured On Deadliest Catch

As with many sea-related careers, working on "Deadliest Catch" is an even tougher job than you think. However, it's easy for fans of the reality series to forget that devastating events happen — it's a TV show, after all. Unfortunately, the fantasy that these brave fishermen are invincible gets wiped away when a terrible tragedy occurs. 

As the events that took place on January 8, 2019, off the Oregon coast, illustrate, these fishermen don't exclusively work during the taping of "Deadliest Catch." Boats of the Bering Sea fleet seek out valuable sea life in other bodies of water, as well. That was the case of the vessel Mary B II, the lost ship to which the "Deadliest Catch" captains paid tribute during the Season 15 premiere in 2019.

In the tribute segment, the captains speak of their connections to fishermen Stephen Biernacki, James Lacey, and Joshua Porter, who tragically perished off the Oregon coast (via Oregon Live). News reports of the incident eventually brought more specific details to the fates of the three men aboard the Mary B II.

The fishing vessel Mary B II got hit with a 20-foot wave

The further the captains steer their boats into treacherous waters to catch enough crab to pay the bills, the more dangerous their voyage becomes. The Washington Post reports that on January 8, 2019, the vessel Mary B II was fishing for Dungeness crab off the Oregon coast. At around 10 p.m., the 42-foot fishing boat was heading back to the docks when they reached the Yaquina Bay bar, which is a spot where the Pacific Ocean meets the Yaquina River, creating unpredictable swells.

Unfortunately, the Mary B II entered this spot at the worst possible time. According to Coast Guard Chief Warrant Officer Thomas Malloy, the vessel was overcome by a 20-foot wave that crashed over the bow. The force of this capsized the boat. Despite brave rescue efforts, the bodies of Stephen Biernacki, James Lacey, and Joshua Porter were all eventually recovered. 

Based on an AP News report, the Yaquina Bay bar, where the boat capsized, has a deadly track record. A town nearby features a memorial in honor of over 100 local fishermen who've been lost at sea. Taunette Dixon, president of the nonprofit Newport Fishermen's Wives, explains, "It happens frequently enough that we actually have funds that help families during this time. We fundraise all year long, and we try to help them as much as we can." Following the "Deadliest Catch" tribute, the captains and deckhands of these fishing vessels continued to push forward to bring in their seasonal quota to earn their wages.