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Originally published April 3, 2008 at 12:00 AM | Page modified April 3, 2008 at 10:58 PM

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Alaska Ranger assistant engineer admits drinking on board

In a Coast Guard hearing into the sinking of the Alaska Ranger, assistant engineer Rodney Lundy admitted Wednesday to sometimes drinking...

Seattle Times staff reporter

In a Coast Guard hearing into the sinking of the Alaska Ranger, assistant engineer Rodney Lundy admitted Wednesday to sometimes drinking alcohol on board the vessel. But Lundy said he was never drunk while on watch.

The hearings in Unalaska, Alaska, are being conducted by a Marine Board of Investigation, which has launched a wide-ranging examination of the circumstances surrounding the March 23 sinking about 120 miles west of Dutch Harbor, which claimed the lives of five of the 47 crew of the Seattle-based factory trawler.

Lundy worked aboard the vessel for 11 years, according to Coast Guard Petty Officer Sara Francis, who attended the hearing. Lundy also was the engineer on watch during the pre-early morning hours.

Another surviving crewman, Eric Haynes, said Lundy was a really good engineer but had a drinking problem and probably should not have been on the boat, according to KIAL Radio in Unalaska, which covered Wednesday's hearing.

Haynes said he had once turned Lundy in for drinking. He also said that during some past fishing trips, Lundy had been asked to check in before watch so he could be monitored for sobriety, according to KIAL Radio.

In the night that preceded the sinking, Haynes said he saw Lundy and he did not believe the assistant engineer had been drinking.

Haynes was a cook aboard the ship and has worked for Fishing Company of Alaska, which operated the Alaska Ranger, since 1994.

The Seattle-based company has a "zero tolerance" policy for all crew that prohibits them from bringing any alcohol or drugs aboard company vessels and from working under the influence.

Violations can lead to "discipline up to and including termination," according to the company's employee handbook.

Hal Bernton: 206-464-2580 or hbernton@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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