Skip to main content

Coast Guard weighs changes after rescue gone wrong

The Coast Guard is considering a series of policy changes after a routine towing accident resulted in a sunken vessel and a death.

In early December, the Coast Guard arrived to tow the commercial fishing boat Orin C back to Gloucester, Mass., to repair an overheated engine, but the 51-foot boat succumbed to 12-foot seas, leaving three men in 49-degree water. Two crewmen swam to safety, but the captain could not be revived after a rescue swimmer reached him, according to a report in the Boston Globe.

To lose both a vessel and a life in a controlled tow situation is extremely rare.

The Coast Guard is considering a series of policy changes that would be binding nationwide as a result of this case, Lt. Karen Kutkiewicz, spokeswoman for the First Coast Guard District, which covers the Northeast seaboard, told the Globe.

Among the considerations: new requirements for Coast Guard vessels to be equipped with defibrillators; new protocols to make sure sinking vessels receive reliable pumps; and new methods to deliver lifesaving items from helicopters without endangering personnel.