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Coast Guard Response Report – New England May 2007

Recent responses from New England

Recent responses from New England

Injured during rescue

Nantucket, Mass.

Two Coast crewmembers suffered injuries while assisting a disabled fishing boat with three crewmembers aboard in rough weather and in danger of sinking about 45 nautical miles southeast of Nantucket, Mass. The two crewmembers aboard Coast Guard Cutter Campbell, which arrived on scene to assist the New Bedford, Mass.-based fishing boat, were attempting to pass a towline to the 74-foot boat when they sustained non-life-threatening trauma. An HH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Air Station Cape Cod hoisted the three crewmen from the fishing boat and the two injured Coast Guardsmen from the cutter. The helicopter crew was unable to safely hoist the fishing boat crew from their vessel, so they instructed the men, who were wearing survival suits, to enter the water, one at a time, upon the helicopter’s signal. A Coast Guard rescue swimmer entered the water from the helicopter and assisted each crewmember into the basket to be hoisted by the helicopter. The rescue swimmer repeated this process until all three were safely inside the helicopter. The rescue swimmer described the rescue as challenging because a big wave would come and the basket would drop 10 feet or so. The rescue helicopter was scheduled to land at Cape CodHospital where the injured were to be treated. The crew originally alerted StationBrantPoint that it had lost main propulsion and expressed concerns that the onboard pumps would not be able to keep up with the flooding. Weather conditions at the time were reported as 22-degree air temperature, 30- to 40-knot winds and 8- to 12-foot seas. After the crews were rescued, the fishing boat remained disabled and adrift. Due to gale-force winds and sea conditions, the fishing boat became less stable and was taking on water over the sides. An HH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Air Station Cape Cod deployed a Self-Locating Datum Marker Buoy, which was attached to the fishing boat and which would transmit its location by satellite to the Coast Guard. Initially the Coast Guard cutter was going to tow the fishing boat towards Martha’s Vineyard. However, 12-to 14-foot seas and 30-knot winds prevented Campbell from safely taking the vessel in tow. The Coast Guard planned to work with the vessel’s owner to determine his intentions. The Coast Guard later confirmed that the owner abandoned the fishing boat after a salvage company deemed the scallop boat unsafe to tow. A private salvor hired by the owner arrived and boarded the vessel to assess the situation for towing. Upon going aboard, the salvor discovered the fishing vessel’s engine room was half-full of water, and the fish hold had several feet of water in it. The salvor determined the boat was unsafe to work aboard and too dangerous to tow. After two days of observing and assessing the condition of the boat, the Coast Guard reached the same conclusion. By afternoon, the owner stated he had no choice but to abandon the boat and presented the Coast Guard with a letter to this effect. Coast Guard Cutter Campbell took proactive steps to eliminate the significant hazard to navigation posed by this unlit vessel on the high seas. The fishing boat sank about 80 miles southeast of Nantucket in 250 to 330 feet of water. The boat was reported to have 1,000 gallons of fuel oil on board. The minor potential environmental impact posed by the vessel’s fuel was weighed against the potential for a life-threatening collision at sea with this substantial vessel, unlit, partially submerged, abandoned, and close to major shipping lanes. (Feb. 11)

Dive team recovers crew

StationBrantPoint, Mass.

Divers from the Massachusetts State Police Underwater Recovery Unit and a private salvage company recovered one body from sunken fishing boat Lady of Grace. The body had not yet been positively identified. Three crewmembers went missing after Lady of Grace sank Jan. 26. The body of one crewmember was recovered from the fishing boat’s pilot house on Jan. 29. The State Police Dive Team conducted a thorough search of all accessible spaces. The whereabouts of the two remaining missing crewmembers is unknown. The salvage vessel hired by the owner of Lady of Grace, as well as a 41-foot state police vessel participated in the operation. A 41-foot patrol boat crew from Coast Guard Station Brant Point enforced a safety zone around the dive location. (Feb. 21)