An unexpected rogue wave of departures has just slammed Discovery Channel's ratings juggernaut "Deadliest Catch".
Three stars from the hit reality series — Capts. Johnathan Hillstrand, Andy Hillstrand and Sig Hansen — have announced that they will not be returning for the next season because of conflicts with the network.
"We have been through a lot over the past year and unfortunately, given the current situation with Discovery, we are unable to continue participating in 'Deadliest Catch'," the crab fishermen said in a joint written statement
. "It has been a fantastic ride, and we wish the best to all of the amazing and supportive 'Catch' fans we have met over the years."
Earlier this month, Discovery slapped the Hillstrands with a $3 million lawsuit, alleging that they failed to complete obligations for work on "Hillstranded," a planned "Catch" spinoff. Firing back, the Hillstrands’ lawyer likened the lawsuit to extortion and, according to Yahoo
, said the lawsuit might force his clients to sell their boats and fire their crews.
Hansen later expressed by his fellow fishermen saying, "I want people to know the captains stand together, and me and my brothers support them 100 percent."
The departure of the captains comes months after "Deadliest Catch" said goodbye to Capt. Phil Harris, who died earlier this year of stroke complications at the age of 53. According to PEOPLE
, Harris's sons, Josh and Jake Harris, plan to return to the show for season seven. Filming is expected to start next month during the opening of crab season.
No word yet on how Discovery plans to work around the loss of the three captains.