Phil Harris, the fishing boat captain whose adventures off the coast of Alaska were captured on the hit Discovery Channel series Deadliest Catch, died at a hospital near Anchorage late Tuesday. He was 53.
Harris suffered a stroke while in port off-loading at St. Paul Island in Alaska on Jan. 30. Despite promising reports about his health, Phil never fully recovered and passed away with his family at his side.
According to The Associated Press, Harris started working on fishing boats at age 7 and started work 10 years later on a crab boat. When he was 21, he ran a fishing vessel out of Seattle, making him one of the youngest to captain a vessel in the Bering Sea. Deadliest Catch, now in its fifth seasons, has been one of the Discovery Channel’s most popular series. Fans seem to be fascinated with the crab fishing industry in the dangerous waters off Alaska.
“He was more than someone on our television screen. Phil was a devoted father and loyal friend to all who knew him,” the network said in a statement overnight. “We will miss his straightforward honesty, wicked sense of humor and enormous heart. We share our tremendous sadness over this loss with the millions of viewers who followed Phil’s every move. We send our thoughts and prayers to Phil’s sons Josh and Jake and the Cornelia Marie crew.”
The captain’s sons — Josh and Jake Harris — also released released a statement. The men praised their late dad as a brave warrior who battled on until the day of his final breath: “It is with great sadness that we say goodbye to our dad — Captain Phil Harris. Dad has always been a fighter and continued to be until the end. For us and the crew, he was someone who never backed down. We will remember and celebrate that strength. Thanks to everyone for their thoughts and prayers.”
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