Tuesday, November 20, 1990 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Trawler Captain Relieved Of His Duties -- Standoff Ends Between Crew, Firm That Manages Arctic Hero

A standoff between the crew of a factory trawler in Alaska and its Seattle-based managing company apparently ended today after the captain was relieved of his command.

A spokesman for AKC Corp. said the Arctic Hero was scheduled to unload its catch of fish today in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, and that skipper Keith Dillon of Anchorage and some of the 45 crewmen were being flown out of the area today. The spokesman, who refused to be identified, said a company representative had boarded the trawler and installed a new captain.

The standoff started when a dispute over pay and drinking on the vessel reportedly prompted a melee aboard the 205-foot trawler, injuring the chief engineer and the lead foreman of the ship's processing operation.

Dillon radioed for help from the Coast Guard, but reportedly said later by radio that he sympathized with his workers and refused to unload the trawler's catch until the crew was paid.

The AKC spokesman said the crew's paychecks were in Dutch Harbor ahead of the trawler, however, and that skipper Dillon appears to have deliberately misled the crew. Attempts to reach the vessel and Dillon by radio today were unsuccessful.

``It was such a shock, to have that happen on the boat,'' said Sierocinski, 35, who came to America five years ago from Poland to work on fishing boats.

Sierocinski said crewmen were angry because they had not been paid and that the situation was exacerbated when members began drinking beer they got from a Japanese crew. Alcohol is not allowed on board, he said.

Sierocinski said he did not participate in the fighting, but could understand it: ``If you work 16 hours a day and you don't get any money, I'm sure you get upset.''

Sierocinski said he had worked for AKC for several months, and that he planned to search for another boat in Alaska.

Two crew members were arrested. Arraignments for crewmen James R. Smith Jr., 26, and Reginald Collins, 28, both of Seattle, were scheduled for today. They are charged with two counts of assault each.

Copyright (c) 1990 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.


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