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'Deadliest Catch' captain Phil Harris dies after recent stroke


Phil Harris, captain of the Cornelia Marie on the Discovery Channel show "Deadliest Catch," has died at age 53.

On the show's Web page, where updates on Harris' condition had been posted since his Jan. 30 stroke, sons Jake and Josh Harris gave notice of their father's passing:

 "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. -- Jake and Josh Harris"

Harris, who was based out of Seattle, suffered the stroke during an offload of crab. He was found unconscious in a stateroom, was airlifted to Anchorage for 12 hours of surgery, then placed in a medically induced coma. He'd shown signs of improvement last week, squeezing hands and even telling his doctors and nurses, in his signature gruff style, to not screw things up.

"Deadliest Catch" follows several crews working the Bering Sea during the area's crab fishing seasons. Harris, a fisherman for 32 years, was a co-owner of the Cornelia Marie, which he'd captained for 18 years; Jake and Josh work on the ship as deck hands, and Josh had remained on the ship immediately after his dad's stroke, awaiting the arrival of relief captain to continue the work. 

Fans reached out Tuesday night on the show's message boards -- where comments have been posted since Phil Harris fell ill -- offering condolences to the family.

Discovery Channel in its statement referred to Harris as "more than someone on our television screen. Phil was a devoted father and loyal friend to all who knew him. We will miss his straightforward honesty, wicked sense of humor and enormous heart."

[Updated, 10:25 p.m.: Inspired by commenter Maurice, I embedded a song below. "Sail On, Sailor," by the Beach Boys./cdz]

[Updated, 11:29 p.m., Feb. 10: Inspired by commenter Richard Proctor, I embedded another song below. "Ashokan Farewell." Good tune, Richard; beautiful, and so sad./cdz]

[Updated, 1:14 p.m., Feb. 12: Phil Harris will be seen again in the upcoming season of "Deadliest Catch," though producers aren't sure how the series will handle his death. The Ministry's new post also includes a little bit about how his desire for a cool car got the captain on those fishing boats in the first place.]

-- Christie D'Zurilla

Photo: Capt. Phil Harris with sons Josh, left, and Jake, right. Credit: Discovery Channel.

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Comments () | Archives (186)

RIP Captain Harris. I will miss your thoughts on everything during the season. I know all of the fans were rooting for you to pull through.


I am sorry to hear about Captain Phil Harris' passing. This is very sad.


Rest In Peace. Sympathy to his family & friends.

I am so saddened by his death. I watched this show quite a bit and most recently on a trip to NY on Jet Blue where there was a 5 hour marathon!!! Loved Phil!! He reminds me so so so very much of my dad! He will be very missed! RIP Phil... may the eternal water give you peace.


I feel a sense of loss, for this man I've never met... that says more about the man than anything. I will really miss him.


I sailed an ocean, unsettled ocean
Through restful waters and deep commotion
Often frightened, unenlightened
Sail on, sail on sailor

I wrest the waters, fight Neptune's waters
Sail through the sorrows of life's marauders
Unrepenting, often empty
Sail on, sail on sailor

Caught like a sewer rat alone but I sail
Bought like a crust of bread, but oh do I wail

Seldom stumble, never crumble
Try to tumble, life's a rumble
Feel the stinging I've been given
Never ending, unrelenting
Heartbreak searing, always fearing
Never clearing persevering
Sail on, sail on, sailor

I work the seaways, the gale-swept seaways
Past shipwrecked daughters of wicked waters
Uninspired, drenched and tired
Wail on, wail on, sailor

Always needing, even bleeding
Never feeding all my feelings
Damn the thunder, must I blunder
There's no wonder all I'm under
Stop the crying and the lying
And the sighing and my dying

Sail on, sail on sailor
Sail on, sail on sailor
Sail on, sail on sailor
Sail on, sail on sailor

R.I.P. Captain.
And Thank you for allowing the world onboard your ship.
Our prayers go out to the Family and Crew.

Truly A Great Loss , My Wife and I loved the show, and we Loved Captian Phil, One Tough Guy ! and Realy knew His stuff. Are prayers Go out to the Captians Loved ones, freinds and Co Workers, Gone But Never Forgotten.
Rest In Peace Captian, You are realy going to be missed, But Gods calling,
He Needed You In Heaven, A True American Hero. 2010
God Speed

How can he have been only 32 years old but have been captain for 18 years? That would mean he was 14 when he became Captain.

I am heartbroken and at a loss for words but not tears..I had a chance to not only once but twice to meet this man Call Captain Phil. I will say it was a pleasure and wonderful time to chat and thank him for sharing his life and thank him for the crab he caught for me to enjoy. He was bigger than life
he was always confused slightly why woman were so interested in the show
during one of my meet and greet i told him..woman love to see what REAL MEN look like and what real men are.And he was A hard core to the bone Real MAN. Women like me LOVE THAT. Metro men what the, Hell no!! he was kind and a gentleman and gave great huggs.I will miss him. and I am heartbroken for his kids. I am just HEARTBROKEN.. thank you Captain Phil.


Huggs from a great and continued always forever admirer.


Smooth Sails My Friend

I am so very saddened to hear of Captain Phil's passing. My heart, thoughts, and prayers are with Josh, Jake, and the entire Harris family, as well as the extended family and friends from the Deadliest Catch cast, crew, and The Discovery Channel. My family loves the show and we will miss Captain Phil. We could tell by watching him that he was a good man and such a great loving father. He was so brave and we will remember him fondly. The Corneila Marie has a very special guardian angel now. RIP Captain Phil.

@Maurice -- Christie here from the Ministry. I popped that song into the post -- seemed to suit the mood, yes?



Godspeed. May you find your nets full in heaven and the weather at its most optimal. RIP.

I never actually met Mr. harris but I got to see him at the state fair in Palmer, AK last summer. I was awestruck and couldn't even say hello, I am sad now that I din't. We love the show and we are so very sad for his family. God bless. RIP Phil

This is sad news indeed. I will miss Capt. Phil and his hard edged reality that he shared with us on the show. He was always frank, to the point and still showed a person can be tough and still have a heart. He will be greatly missed by his many fans among whom I am one. My great condolences to the boys and family..may you soon find some peace and solace. He is sailing on to calmer waters...

@Troy -- Christie here from the blog. According to the sources I checked, Harris was a fisherman for 32 years and captain for 14 of those years. He bought into the Cornelia Marie in 1990. I'm doing more research to make sure those are all correct numbers.

He was 53 years old.


I already posted a message, but I just wanted to and had to say to Maurice about his posting....your poem is beautiful and so very appropriate. It literally took my breath away and completely overwhelmed me, what a wonderful tribute to a great captain and man!
Rest In Peace Captain Phil.

It came to a shock to hear of Cpt. Harris. My prayers are with the family
and crew of cornilia Marie. He will be greatly missed by so many.
I missed when the crew were in Ketchikan Alaska for maintance.
Phil and his boys were my fav. Love again. My prayers r with u
Luv Debbie M. in metlakatla Ak !!

My Heartfelt condolences go to the Harris Family I have been a fan of Deadliest Catch for a few years. I was shocked by the news of Captain Phil's stroke and was really hoping he would pull through. Watching the show could really see his love for the sea and his crew He will be sorely missed. God Bless and Keep You all.

RIP Captain Phil...hope your drinking a duck fart in the big Lockspot in the sky...

And no, the 32 years old thing was a typo...maybe at heart!

Troy - I had to read it twice myself. Phil Harris was a captain for 32 years. He was not 32 years old - probably in his mid to late 50s, I would guess. In any case, much too young for such a fate. My sincere condolances to his family.

Hey all -- me again. I just added Phil Harris' age in the post.


*I'm sorry to post once again but my apologies for referring to Maurice's posting as a poem. I didn't know it was actually a song, but still they are such beautiful words and a perfect tribute to Capt. Phil.*

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