What happened to Rip Carlton from “Deadliest Catch”?

March 21, 2024
9 mins read

Arguably one of the most popular Discovery Channel series, “Deadliest Catch” is a reality TV show that documents the real-life high sea adventures of Alaskan crab fisherman. The series features several groups of experienced crab fishermen aboard fishing vessels, which compete against each other, hoping to score the most lucrative catch! Created by Thom Beers, the adrenaline-packed series premiered in 2005, and has run for 18 seasons, becoming one of the most watched shows on the channel! Unfortunately, since the show debuted, it has been ridden with numerous crew losses and shipwrecks, which isn’t unusual for this highly hazardous profession. Some of the dangers that fishermen face on their vessels are gruesome accidents, deadly fires, and drowning. This is nothing new for the newly joined cast member of the show, Rip Carlton, who recently had a close call in the latest season! Keep reading to learn more!

Who is Rip Carlton?

Rip Carlton is a crab fisherman and reality TV star, who became famous for his appearances in “Deadliest Catch. He was born in Seattle, Washington State, but relocated to Alaska at 18. Growing up, he wanted to pursue a career as a drag racer in Europe, and he initially took up fishing to finance his dream. In his interview with a media outlet, he said: ‘I just went up to try to earn some money to race cars in Europe like every 18-year-old. I mean, why not? I was convinced, and once I decided that that wasn’t the route I was going to go down, I decided that I was going to try to become a captain’. Unfortunately, crab fishing is a challenging profession, and rising through the ranks in the community isn’t easy.


Interestingly, he had no experience as a fisherman; he revealed details about his first time working on deck: ‘When I got up there, my eyes were opened wide. I knew nothing about fishing. I just remember being on the deck of a boat working for the processor unloading it. And I asked the guys about fishing, and they say, ‘ Oh yeah, we can make a lot of money.’ His co-workers also warned him that even though the job is highly lucrative, it’s physically demanding and dangerous. but this didn’t scare Rip, or steer him into another career. On the contrary, he was thrilled, saying: ‘The light went off in my head, and I said, oh that sounds perfect. That was the perfect job application for me, dangerous and hard, perfect.’

His first job

Rip revealed that it took him four months to get hired, finally landing a spot in a shop owned by Norwegians. He initially unloaded crabs, but wanted to move up the ladder, so he put extra effort into everything he did, hoping to impress; eventually, after seeing his working ethic, they told him about a job opening on a different ship. Interestingly, he went over to talk to the ship’s owner at 6 am – the vessel’s crew had a party the night before, and woke up with a hangover, unwilling to go fishing, leaving the spot for Rip.

He detailed his experience working for the first time on the boat: ‘Well, at first it was kind of like, what the heck is this? It took me three or four trips before I got that understanding, and the hang of what was going on. But really, the clincher for me at first was when I got my first paycheck; I went, all right, I got it.’


Even though he entered the industry to fund becoming a racer in Europe, he never really went through with his idea. Instead, he bought a Porsche and drove it for several years before acquiring a race car, which he raced up and down the West Coast. Rip spent eight years racing and upgrading, but ultimately wasn’t cut out for professional racing: ‘I never quite got there. But I had a good effort.’

When Rip realized that racing wasn’t the route he wanted, he began investing efforts into becoming a ship’s captain, and ultimately concluded that being the vessel’s owner was actually the most coveted position.

How did he join “Deadliest Catch”?

After fishing for well over 40 years, Rip Carlton finally joined the crew in the latest, 18th season of the show, which premiered in April 2022. As it turned out, the show’s producers had tried to get him into the show for several years, but he always refused. Rip explained why, revealing: ‘We’re pretty busy. We have a pretty successful operation. We don’t have time to do much screwing around. That’s what we would call it when they had all the boats on the show in town at a certain time, and we’re just in and out of town cranking out trips.’

So, what made him change his mind? First, executive producer Arom Starr talked to Rip, who explained his hesitation and problems with joining the show. Still, Arom reassured him that they could work around his tight schedule, and adapt to his operation. However, ultimately Rip’s son played a crucial role in persuading him to join the fishermen; Rip disclosed: “Derek, he was telling me they were trying to get me to do the show. And he goes, ‘dad, you have to do it.’ And I go, ‘what do you mean?’ And he says, ‘dad, you’re a much better fisherman than those guys. And you’re so funny.’

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Rip was still a bit reluctant, but then his son said that in 20 years after Rip died, he would be able to grab a memory stick and show his kids their granddad on Discovery Channel fishing for crab, so Rip was hooked revealing: ‘And that was the kicker. So I went, all right, I get it, I’ll do it.’

Rip appears as the captain of Patty Lee, as a replacement for Todd Kochutin, the skipper who lost his life in 2021. After Todd’s death and Francis Katungin’s accident, the vessel was out of the water for some time, as it was one man short. With the addition of another deckhand, Devon Davis, the ship was finally on the open sea; while Rip shared some encouraging words, he said: ‘This is our redemption trip. We’re going to try to get through a trip without anything happening. The most important thing is safety. Devon, it’s your first time on the boat, don’t get hurt.’

What happened to Rip Carlton?

Those who watch “Deadliest Catch” are used to this profession’s dangers, and many have seen the blood-curdling footage of accidents. However, the latest season had its viewers on the edge of their seats! During one episode, Rip experienced one of the worst scenarios of every captain – to see one of his crew members get severely injured. Furthermore, the episode saw Rip rendezvous with the Coast Guard helicopter, trying to keep his vessel still amid an Arctic storm.


Even though the crew had a great season start, and successfully managed to avert more than a few crises, this one seemed to be unavoidable. As Rip battled massive ways, Francis Katungin was crashed by a crab pot weighing over 700lbs after it was sprung from its usual spot by a huge wave. In the chilling video of the rescue, you can hear Francis screaming in pain as others try to help him. According to the video and reports, Francis sustained a severe injury to his pelvis, a broken hip, and internal bleeding, which rendered him immobile.

Given that he was far from any coast, he had no choice but to call the Coast Guard, which was also not the best option, but it was the only one Rip had. Why? Well, the vessel and the crew were caught in a rough storm, and balancing your ship in line with a helicopter long enough for the Coast Guard to deploy a swimmer isn’t easy at all. Also, enacting a rescue during a massive storm is entirely different, as Rip and Coast Guard managed to do. Even Rip was shocked that they were willing to try the recovery. He said: ‘I didn’t think they’d attempt the evac. The wind was howling, the seas were huge and confused. I was having a hard time just holding the boat on the course.’ As a matter of fact, in the video, you can clearly hear that the Coast Guard deployed five swimmers in case some of the rescuers missed the ship, which could have happened quickly in those conditions.


Thankfully, the Coast Guard and Rip did their parts successfully, but he later revealed the clues, suggesting that they were aware of the rescue’s dangers and potential consequences. Rip said: ‘I knew it was serious for the crew in the helicopter when the pilot told me how many people he had on board, in case they went in the water.”

Rip tried to boost the crew’s morale and remain optimistic, saying: ‘You gotta do the best job you can.’ My best job is to get this boat to a safe spot for the Coast Guard to get Francis off, which is not gonna be easy.” While waiting for the rescue, Francis disclosed: ‘I just want to finish this trip. Finish this f****** season… This is where I like being right here. This is what I love doing.”


How did Todd Kochutin die?

Crab fishing is invariably hazardous, and if you watch the show, you know that Discovery Channel’s look at the lives and losses of Bering Sea fishermen has been packing a punch since the show premiered. Several cast members met their doom on the vessel, while others ended with severe injuries. One of those members was Todd Kochutin, a passionate fisherman, who passed away in February 2021 aged 30. Initially, the public was kept in the dark regarding the cause of his death, so many wondered what had happened to Todd.

It seemed that Patty Lee was cursed, as several disasters had happened on the vessel in the last couple of years. His obituary stated that he died ‘as a result of injuries sustained while on board F/V Patricia Lee.’ The Discovery later released the video, which showed the intensity of the show as other crew members learned of Todd’s passing. In the video, the fishermen realized that one of the members on deck sustained an injury and needed urgent medical attention, while the other captain, Sig Hansen, said: ‘It sounds like he got hit by a [crab] pot. If he got hit by one of those, that’s a scary, scary thought.’

Even though the obituary disclosed the cause of his death, not many believed that was true. There was a Reddit discussion in which a user claimed to have worked on the vessel, and personally knew Todd ,then boldly offering a different version of events that led to Todd’s demise, writing: ‘He was squeezed between the sorting table and a pole is what I was told by a crew that was there. The guy running the hydraulics pulled the lever to retract the table from the pot to the sort position, and didn’t check to see if it was clear, pinned Todd and crushed him.’

However, there is nothing to substantiate this theory, and Discovery never made any statements. Ultimately, the details around his death have been vague. However, it doesn’t lessen the tragedy of his loss, especially given that he was the last living member of his immediate family.

Sin Hansen Accused of Sexual Abuse

Whether you are a fan of the show or not, the chances are that you came across Sin Hansen, the captain of Northwestern, who has been in every season of the show. In 2017, he was dragged into a scandal after his estranged daughter Melissa Eckstrom filed a lawsuit against him, claiming that he sexually abused her during her childhood. Melissa Eckstrom is Sin’s daughter from his marriage with Lisa Eckstrom, whom he divorced in 1992.

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According to reports, this was not the first time he’d been accused of molestation, the same accusations resurfaced when they divorced. However, the judge found the charges unfounded, and cleared Sin of any wrongdoing. Almost three decades later, it was revealed that Melisa was suing Sin again, because she hadn’t been able to testify the first time. On the other hand, Sin adamantly denied the accusations, and shared his opinion on the whole fiasco, saying: ‘This is nothing more than an old-fashioned shakedown. It’s a completely frivolous lawsuit full of lies that my ex-wife made up to take away my daughter, and still uses to try to extort money from me. It’s blackmail.”

In 2018, a media outlet wrote that the court ruled that a civil trial could progress. However, the lawsuit was left at that, and no further information regarding the case surfaced. It seemed that was a lousy year for Sin as he also suffered his second heart attack, caused by an allergic reaction.


Everybody in the crab fishing industry knows that pursuing this profession could easily cost you your life; that’s why few are cut out for it. Luckily, Rip Carlton has what it takes, and knows how to utilize his experience and knowledge acquired during 46 years of his career, delivering one of the most thrilling episodes since the show aired, which actually averted a tragedy.

Martha Clifford

As an Author at Net Worth Post, I guide a dedicated team in the art of revealing the stories behind the world's most influential personalities. Fueled by a relentless curiosity and a knack for uncovering hidden stories, I immerse myself in the intricacies of our subjects' lives, weaving together accurate data and compelling narratives. My involvement spans the entire editorial process, from the seed of research to the final flourish of publication, ensuring that every article not only educates but also captivates and motivates our audience.

At Net Worth Post, we are committed to providing thorough investigations into the net worth and life achievements of innovators across diverse sectors such as technology, culture, and social entrepreneurship. My method merges meticulous research with eloquent storytelling, designed to bridge the gap between our readers and the remarkable individuals who redefine our tomorrow. Through spotlighting their journeys to success, the hurdles they've surmounted, and their contributions to society, we aim to give our readers a deep and inspiring insight into the luminaries who are paving the way for progress and ingenuity in the modern era.

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