Proceedings magazine is a communication tool for the Coast Guard's Marine Safety & Security Council. Each quarterly magazine focuses on a specific theme of interest to the marine industry.
Issue link: http://uscgproceedings.epubxp.com/i/51874
Lessons Learned Investigations USCG Casualty Night Shift A broken autopilot and sudden loss of stability leave a fi shing vessel's crew fatally shorthanded. by MS. CAROLYN STEELE Technical Writer The skies were clear and the seas calm off the coast of Massachusetts that night in early November of 2008. 7KH FUHZ RI D À VKLQJ WUDZOHU REVHUYHG WKH JORZ RI D nearby sister vessel's lights as it hauled in the day's catch. Without warning, those lights abruptly van- ished, replaced by an eerie darkness. What Happened $W D P RQ 1RYHPEHU WKH IRRW À VKLQJ vessel Costa & Corvo departed New Bedford, Mass., IRU D URXWLQH JURXQG À VKLQJ WULS DERXW PLOHV HDVW of Nantucket with three crewmembers and a captain aboard. At some point over the next three days, the vessel's autopilot stopped functioning and crewmem- EHUV XQVXFFHVVIXOO\ WULHG WR À [ WKH SUREOHP +RZHYHU the captain decided to continue with the trip—possi- bly because the forecast called for calm weather. %\ S P RQ 1RYHPEHU WKH QHW ZDV À OOHG VR WKH FUHZ KDG EHJXQ GUDJJLQJ WKHLU À VKLQJ JHDU WR haul in the catch. At around 11 p.m., a sister vessel, the Mary K, passed within 400 yards and saw that the dragger's lights were fully illuminated. By midnight, the crewmembers had completed a suc- cessful haul and were lowering a fully loaded net onto the vessel's stern. Moments later, events took a catastrophic turn. The heavy net, slippery with live catch, suddenly shifted to the port side deck and caused the vessel to roll to port. In a rapid chain reaction, the unsecured port trawl door became submerged and fell open, directing seawater onto the vessel's deck and further degrading its stability. Within minutes the boat listed, then capsized to port. Vanished Vessel At 12:05 a.m. on November 13, 2008, the crews of two RWKHU QHDUE\ À VKLQJ YHVVHOV FRQWDFWHG WKH Mary K, VWDWLQJ WKH\ KDG KHDUG FUDVKLQJ VRXQGV RYHU WKH 9+) radio, and the captain promptly relayed this informa- tion to Coast Guard Sector Boston, adding that he could no longer see his sister ship, whose lights had disappeared just moments before. Costa & Corvo. 74 Proceedings Winter 2011-2012 These conversations were interrupted by a distress signal from the emergency position-indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) registered to the downed vessel. The Mary K's captain noted that the distressed vessel remained on radar, so the Coast Guard directed him to proceed to the vessel's last known position. The www.uscg.mil/proceedings fro m