Mariner dies when dredge tender capsizes off Charleston


A mariner aboard a dredge tender died when the vessel capsized off the coast of Charleston, S.C., while under tow.

The 25-foot Addi-Kate was tethered to the dredge Brunswick in the Ashley River when the workboat rolled over, according to Lt. j.g. Phillip Vanderweit of Coast Guard Sector Charleston. The incident happened April 11 at about 2130 southeast of The Battery in downtown Charleston.

“They had a workboat in a side tow and they were moving to a new dredge project location,” Vanderweit said. “Along the way, the workboat attached to the side capsized and went under the (dredge) itself.”

Two mariners were aboard Addi-Kate at the time. A crewman on the main deck grabbed ahold of some dredging equipment and climbed onto Brunswick, where he notified the dredge crew about the rollover.

“They stopped and realized the workboat had collapsed and was submerged,” Vanderweit said.

The body of the second mariner, Derrick Nesmith, 49, of Goose Creek, S.C., was found early on April 12 in a tidal creek near the Ashley River. The Coast Guard said he was wearing a life jacket.

The cause of the incident remains under investigation by the Coast Guard. Vanderweit did not know whether lines parted or any mechanical issues preceded the rollover.

Southern Dredging Co. of Charleston operated the workboat and the dredge. A woman who answered the phone at the company a day after the incident said no one was available to comment.

Brunswick was involved in several dredging projects in Charleston Harbor. The vessels left a project in Wappoo Creek and were traveling south in the Ashley River when the workboat capsized. It wasn’t clear to which side of the dredge the workboat was tethered.

Weather conditions at the time of the incident were not available, although rain and wind affected search crews throughout the night. The workboat capsized two hours after low tide in an area with challenging currents.

Authorities located Addi-Kate underneath Brunswick, where the workboat was positioned upside down, Vanderweit said. The mariner who died in the incident was working in the wheelhouse when the boat encountered trouble.

The fatality on April 11 was the second major casualty involving a Southern Dredging workboat in five months. Three people escaped injury when a similar workboat, Miss Anne, capsized and sank on Nov. 17 in Shipyard Creek north of the Arthur J. Ravenel Jr. Bridge.

In that incident, crew aboard Miss Anne were moving an anchor pipe when the vessel encountered a strong current, the Coast Guard said. The cause of the capsizing has not been disclosed. Southern Dredging declined to comment on that incident as well.

By Professional Mariner Staff