Phil Harris, the fishing boat captain whose adventures off the Alaska coast were captured on the television show “Deadliest Catch“, has died, the Discovery Channel said Tuesday night. He was 53.
Harris suffered what his family described as a massive stroke on Jan. 29 while the fishing vessel he captained, Cornelia Marie, was in port at St. Paul Island, Alaska. The fisherman was flown to Anchorage for surgery.
The reality show, which has filmed five seasons, has been one of the Discovery Channel’s most popular and depicts the crab fishing industry in the dangerous waters off Alaska.
In a statement, Discovery Channel senior vice president Elizabeth Hillman says, “Phil was a devoted father and loyal friend to all who knew him.”
According to the ship’s Web site, Harris started working on fishing boats at age 7 and started work 10 years later on a crab boat. When Harris turned 21, he ran a fishing vessel out of Seattle, making him one of the youngest to captain a vessel in the Bering Sea.
When Harris suffered the stroke, the family said a friend, Derek Ray, had flown to St. Paul to take over the role of relief skipper for the rest of the opilio crab season.
Harris’ fishing vessel was based in Seattle.