For Sig Hansen, captain of the F/V Northwestern and longtime cast member of the perennial Discovery Channel hit “Deadliest Catch,” fishing is the family business. After all, Hansen hails from a long line of pioneering crab fishermen and seafarers whose roots reach all the way back to Norway and the country’s mackerel and cod fishing tradition. Hansen and his brothers were brought up on fishing boats — his brother Edgar, usually the deck boss, occasionally helms the Northwestern, and Norman is the ship’s primary engineer — so it makes sense that his own children would follow him out to the promise of open water. And that’s exactly how it’s happened with Sig’s youngest daughter Mandy.
Mandy Hansen began to make appearances on “Deadliest Catch” beginning in Season 12, working on the deck, soaking up industry knowledge, and generally learning the ropes of crab fishing in the far north. By 2018 she was a captain in training under her father’s watchful eye, and with the advent of the show’s epic 17th season, Mandy sits alongside her dad in the Northwestern’s pilothouse as the boat’s official relief captain.
In this exclusive interview with Nicki Swift, Sig Hansen gave us some straight talk on how it’s going with Mandy as they collaborate on running the Northwestern, and what his intentions are for the next generation of fishing Hansens.
Mandy Hansen is fast-tracked to take over the chair
As Season 17 of “Deadliest Catch” got underway, the crab fishing fleet was beset by adversity in all its forms. Fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic threw a wrench into the usual way of doing business, and F/V Northwestern skipper Sig Hansen found himself navigating a tenuous collaborative alliance with his fellow captains. While theoretically sound, in practice, Sig was occasionally in conflict with his designated relief captain — and his youngest daughter — Mandy Hansen.
“You see it for yourself later and you learn from it,” Hansen told Nicki Swift in this exclusive interview of his professional relationship with his heir apparent. “I mean I have to learn to trust Mandy more, right?” Hansen is proud of the hard work his daughter has put in on the Northwestern and is blunt about what’s in store for the next generation of Hansen seafarers.
“She’s been fast-tracked,” Hansen told Nicki of his plan for Mandy to take over as captain. “The big picture is you take over the chair, so to speak. Then let’s get you going on it, and knowledge is power, and I think the more experience she has there, the better off we are as a family entity, and that’s just, you know, there’s no animosity with the group about that. That’s just the way it is. And if you don’t like it you can get the hell off my ship and find another job.”
“Deadliest Catch” is streaming now on Discovery+.
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