Two fishing boats sink in one week

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Six commercial fishermen apparently died in accidents this winter off Massachusetts and Maine

Six commercial fishermen apparently died in accidents this winter off Massachusetts and Maine

Within one week this winter six commercial fishermen died in two separate sinkings off New England.

On Jan. 26 the 75-foot dragger, Lady of Grace, out of New Bedford, Mass., sank in Nantucket Sound with four crewmembers on board. Coast Guard authorities in Boston received a call at about 5 a.m. Jan. 27 from the crew of the fishing vessel Lisa Ann II saying that they had been in contact over e-mail with the Lady of Grace, but that they were concerned when the communication ended.

The Coast Guard launched 27 searches over three days for Lady of Grace, covering more than 6,300 square miles, the agency says. They used Falcon jets, helicopters, the cutters BainbridgeIsland, Hammerhead and Seneca and other search boats, but were unable to find crewmembers Antonio Barroquerio, Rogerio Vendura, Mario Farinha and Joao Silva.

“Suspending a search is one of the hardest decisions a district commander has to make,” Coast Guard commander Tim Sullivan says in a news release. “As we move from the search to trying to learn what led to this tragic loss, we hope to find ways to continue to improve the safety of mariners.”

Less than a week later commander Sullivan was issuing another statement as the agency was suspending the search for another fishing vessel, the 52-foot Lady Luck, which sank about 12 miles south of Cape Elizabeth, Maine. Despite numerous searches covering more than 8,100 square miles and using a number of resources, Coast Guard authorities could not find crewmembers Sean Cone, 24, of Andover, Mass., or Dan Miller, 21, of North Hampton, N.H. Debris and an oil sheen were located in the vicinity of Lady Luck’s last known position

“We grieve with the families of the Lady Luck’s crew and with New England’s fishing community,” Sullivan says in the Feb. 2 news release. “This second tragic loss in so short a time renews our commitment to work with the fishing community and our federal and state partners to identify and remove the hazards that imperil our fishermen.”

In December, Coast Guard crews boarded more than 400 commercial fishing vessels to check for safety violations, according to a news report in the Cape Cod Times newspaper. Six vessels were sent to port because of violations. “Compliance is up, as well as participation in the safety sticker program,” commander Sullivan says in the report.

On Feb. 7 the Coast Guard assisted the crew of the 74-foot scallop boat, Creole Belle, which became disabled about 35 miles southeast of Nantucket, Mass., the agency says. The vessel’s three-person crew was airlifted to safety and, after a salvage team deemed the vessel unsafe to tow because she had taken on too much water, was sunk by the Coast Guard in about 300 feet of water.