Coast Guard investigators concluded their review of the Jan. 3, 2009 sinking of the fishing vessel Patriot, determining that a rapid loss of stability likely caused the vessel to capsize and sink.
The comprehensive review, known as a Marine Casualty Investigation, was conducted by Coast Guard Sector Boston investigators and analyzed extensive evidence to determine the most likely cause of the sinking.
"The investigation found that the Patriot capsized very suddenly," said Capt. John Healey, commander of Coast Guard Sector Boston. "Although we will probably never know exactly what happened, the evidence most strongly supports a loss of stability as the cause. We also examined the possibilities of fire or collision, but the evidence just doesn't support those scenarios."
The loss of Patriot resulted in the death of two Gloucester fishermen. The vessel sank about 14 miles southeast of Gloucester, Mass.
Investigators examined photographs of the sunken vessel, video from a remotely operated vehicle, a Coast Guard Marine Safety Center structural and stability modeling study, computer and metallurgical forensics, and underwater acoustic data to reach their conclusion.
A primary purpose of Marine Casualty Investigations is to find opportunities to improve safety at sea. The key recommendations from this investigation include periodic inspections of a wider range of commercial fishing vessels and the requirement that commercial fishing vessels under 79 feet in length meet minimum stability requirements.
"Our thoughts are with the families of the men who perished in this tragedy," said Healey. "It is our sincere desire to share the lessons learned from this investigation with the entire maritime community, so that we can collectively help prevent similar tragedies in the future."