L-104 members keep boat “ship-shape” for TV show

L-104 members pose on the deck of the Northwestern, one of six boats featured on the TV show, “Deadliest Catch.” L. to r., Dallas Jacobson, Michael Wilson, Thomas Hardy, Shawn Wills, Vern Stephens, Gloria Guerra, Manuel Osorio, Steve Knowles, John Ajax, and David Dizard.

Northwestern completes its fourth season on “Deadliest Catch”

MEMBERS OF LOCAL 104 not only built the Northwestern, a fishing vessel owned by the Hansen family in Seattle, but they keep it in good working order between seasons of the television series, “Deadliest Catch.”

The boat is one of six fishing vessels featured on the Discovery Channel program, which documents Alaskan king crab and Opilio crab fishing in the Bering Sea. In between television seasons (the show just completed its fourth), Local 104 members make sure the vessel is seaworthy at Pacific Fisherman Inc., a small shipyard owned by a group of commercial fishermen in Seattle.

“When I watch the show, two things always come to mind,” reports Gary Powers, Local 104 BM-ST. “First, our members definitely know how to build, repair, and maintain vessels. These boats take a beating, and everything our guys are responsible for always holds together.

“Second, I always keep an eye on the catch. After all, a good season for the “Deadliest Catch” boats means more work for our guys, as the owners will have the money to pay for repairs and equipment upgrades that are needed after a rough fishing season on the Bering Sea.”

According to L-104 bus. rep Dean Calhoun, Local 104 members built the Northwestern in 1977 at the Marco Shipyard, and over the next two decades have made significant changes to the boat.

Originally 108 feet in length, the boat was lengthened to 118 feet in 1987 so it could pack more crab and carry more crab pots (cage-like traps). In 1991, a “pot limit” was introduced to the Alaskan crab fishery, and the boat was lengthened again, this time to 125 feet, in order to attain the maximum pot limit of 250 pots per vessel.

“[Our members] do the job right, because they want to make sure the boats and crews return home safely each and every fishing season.”
— L-104 BM-ST Gary Powers

The Northwestern is operated by 18-year Captain Sig Hansen with the help of his younger brothers, deck boss Edgar Hansen and deckhand Norman Hansen.