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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)

OMG, I am so sadden by this news. With this show you feel you know these families. My husband and I send our thoughts and prayers to you and your family. Phil will be missed. The good Lord must of needed the best crab fisherman that was on this earth, and of course he picked Phil.
Stay strong, and be safe.

capt phile was the man and he will be deeply missed by all fans. I feel so bad for jake and josh. But capt phile teached them how to be fisherman. Thats who he was and now that is who his boys are. FISH ON JOSH AND JAKE FISH ON. GODBLESS YOU AND YOUR FAIMLY.

R.I.P. great captain


In the words of Cap'n Phil.................."This is bad................this is bad, bad. RIP Cap'n

farewell friend keep fishing in that paridise up there,you got yours over we got ours to do, good bye and may god bless phil we will miss you.you taught many dads how to enjoy life bro rest in peace

We are so sorry to hear about your Dad, he was hard core and loved life.
North Carolina

Your father was the father I never had until the age of 23...he was a renegade, hated living by the rules, and always wanted to be free...Jake, Josh...your father is free now, as mine is. Be grateful for the years you had him, the medical miracles the occurred to allow you more time and to live your dream, which I believe is his.

Your family has touched mine dearly and I know you will be blessed with many prayers and along with prayers, there will be pain....don't hide from it...feel it...you have a right to feel it and you have your fisherman family to carry you through. I hope we see you in the future seasonsas I am housebound due to my own personal health issues and your show is my way of living "on the end"

Love to you all,

Patti Shope

I am very sad to hear of Capt. Phils passing. You could tell that he loved what he did, and had pride in his heart to have his sons onboard with him. A true mans man. May god almighty comfort you all, sons, fellow capts. and crews, and those who worked on the show. Life is too short, enjoy everyday, remember to live, love and laugh. I lived in Alaska during my military years, loved it. RIP Capt. Phil, wishing you calm seas, and full pots. Tom, Phx. AZ.

We feel the lost.We feel for the boys.Good -Bye Captin Phil

Rest in peace, Phil.

My condolences to the Harris family, Phil's friends and the crew of the Cornelia Marie.

Fisherman's Prayer

God grant that I may live to fish,
until my dying day,
And when it comes to my last cast,
I then most humbly pray,
When in the Lord's safe landing net,
I'm peacefully asleep,
That in his mercy I be judged,
As big enough to keep.

Author Unknown


We will miss Phil..he was a big part of that show and one of the many reasons we watched...we will surely miss him and condolences to the boys....


Good bye phil. thanks for the memories. .youll be missed for sure. R.I. P.

This is horrible. Our prayers to out to Josh & Jake.

My deepest condolences to his family. He and his boys have always been our favorite on the show.

My condolences to the family of Mr Harris and the crew of Cornelia Marie.
I am a fan of Deadliest Catch and will miss Captain Harris on the show.

This is a sad day for us Deadlist Catch fans. Awhile back, Captain Phil came through my town on a promotional tour, but I didn't go. I didn't think I'd get the time off work, so I figured maybe someday in the future I'll get to meet him in person. Now I really regret not asking for that day off. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends and crew.

crying, sunny florida is cold today, sail on Phil, marie

Sad, but seriously I am a little surprised he lasted this long. You never saw him without a cigarette, drinking boat loads of coffee and eating like a pig. I understand the hours that they put in and the stress, but seriously I am sure he smoked more than 45 years plus. so are we really surpised this happened? Did anyone say after his lung issue, that maybe you need to change some habits??

May the Lord comfort you that it was time for your Dad to come home. Now you must continue from where he left off. show the world your caring love and passion as he did. Our Father who art in heaven, hollowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. and forgive us our tresspasses as we forgive those that trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.


I will miss Capt. Phil deaply. I hope the boys can carry on the tradition. You all have my deapest sympathy.
53 is too young.

My thoughts and prayers are with you, Jake and Josh. We were faithful followers of the show and the Cornelia Marie was one of our favorites because your dad was so entertaining. My autistic son pretends that he is a crab boat fisherman when we are on our boat at the lake. He's going to be very sad when I tell him about your dad. God Bless you and your family. I lost my mom the same way and I know how much this hurts. I am so sorry for your loss.

Albuquerque, NM

i always watch that show so I see he was suffer sick on show and I notice him he is so stuborn he is good man so i was shock that he is passaway today .We are miss him too let him peace sleep without suffer long time. We are so sorry to u all family I love him so good man and good action on show Tv
God bless Duane/Mariah

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