Maritime Casualty News October 2012

Coast Guard assists sinking fishing boat off Nantucket

The U.S. Coast Guard received a distress call from the 84-foot Luzitano, a commercial fishing vessel that was reportedly taking on water just after 0400 on Oct. 20. There were seven crewmembers aboard Luzitano, which was located approximately 40 miles southeast of Nantucket, Mass.
    According to a Coast Guard press release, the fishing vessel had all the required safety gear as well as three dewatering pumps, but the pumps were not keeping up with the flooding. Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod launched an MH-60T Jayhawk helicopter and an HU-25 Falcon jet aircraft to respond to the distress call.
    The flight crews delivered two additional pumps to Luzitano's crew. The fishing vessel crew reported that with the two additional pumps they were able to keep up with the flooding and determined that the cause of the flooding was a four-inch hole in the engine room.
    With the flooding under control, Luzitano was able to proceed to Woods Hole, Mass., with plans for the Coast Guard to escort the vessel back to its homeport in New Bedford.

Fishermen located in Pacific after days of drifting

Three fishermen have been rescued from the Pacific Ocean five days after they experienced engine trouble. The fishermen were reported missing on Oct. 12 from the Tarawa atoll, approximately 2,100 miles southwest of Hawaii. They were located in their 17-foot boat 80 miles off Tarawa on Oct. 17.
    U.S. Coast Guard assistance was requested on Oct. 15 and an aircrew traveled from Oahu to the search area. The watch commander at the Joint Rescue Coordination Center in Honolulu extended the search area, taking into account updated modeling data that resulted in the aircrew spotting the missing boat.
    The fishermen’s vessel was not equipped with oars or paddles and the fishermen attempted to break off portions of the boat to paddle back to shore. They had no food and ran out of water the morning of their rescue.

Tender grounds off Maine islands

A tender transporting 93 passengers to the cruise ship Celebrity Summit ran aground and breached its hull on exposed rocks between Maine's Bar and Sheep Porcupine islands.
The accident happened at about 1945 on Oct. 4 in dark, rainy conditions.
    According to a Bangor Daily News article, a local whale watch boat arrived within 20 minutes and evacuated the passengers. The tender remained stuck on the rocks for more than an hour before the tide came back in and it was freed.
    Lt. Nick Barrow, of U.S. Coast Guard Sector Northern New England, said the tender then was taken back to the cruise ship and placed in storage aboard the ship. Barrow said the damaged tender has been taken out of service and the Coast Guard is investigating the incident.
    Locals had asked the Coast Guard to post navigational buoys in the channel between the islands in the past. Barrow said that the Coast Guard is aware that tenders routinely pass through the shallow waters between Bar and Sheep Porcupine islands, which the agency does not consider to be navigable.

World War II cargo ship grounds in western Kentucky river

LST-325, a World War II cargo ship became stuck in the Cumberland River on Oct. 1. The grounding occurred just outside the channel with 42 crewmembers aboard.
    The ship had been in Nashville, Tenn., and was headed toward the Ohio River back to its homeport in Evansville, Ind. It got stuck about nine miles above Lake Barkley Lock and Dam.
    The U.S. Coast Guard assisted the crew of LST-325 in freeing the vessel on Oct. 3. There were no reports of injuries or damage to the ship. Coast Guard officials said LST-325 ran off course from the channel and went aground due to low visibility during a storm.
    The 328-foot LST-325 now operates as a passenger vessel for tourists. The ship was launched in 1942 and decommissioned in 1999. It was acquired by the USS LST Ship Memorial Inc. in 2000. According to the company’s website, the “LST (Landing Ship, Tank) is an amphibious vessel designed to land battle-ready tanks, troops and supplies directly onto enemy shores.”

Casualty flashback: October 1976

The worst ferry accident in U.S. history occurred on Oct. 20, 1976. The 120-foot ferry George Prince, carrying 95 passengers, was crossing the Mississippi River from Destrehan, La., to Luling, La., when it was struck by the Norwegian tanker SS Frosta.
    The Frosta pilot observed the ferry depart from Destrehan, heading upriver. He called to the ferry twice on his hand-held transceiver, but received no reply. The tanker crew assumed the ferry had seen them and would wait for the ship to pass, but Frosta subsequently hit George Prince on the ferry’s port side. The ferry rolled off the bow of the ship to the starboard side, then rolled under, emerging on the ship’s port side.
    Frosta immediately anchored and launched two lifeboats in a vain attempt to rescue survivors. The ferry Ollie K. Wilds and the tugboat Alma S. were nearby and aided in the rescue of 18 survivors.
    A total of 77 people lost their lives in this incident. A U.S. Coast Guard investigation into the accident concluded in 1977 that the death toll was so high because the ferry was quickly flipped over by the tanker. The primary cause of the disaster was the failure of the ferry’s master to post a lookout.
    According to The Times-Picayune, an autopsy showed that six hours after he started work at midnight, the master aboard George Prince had a .09 percent alcohol level in his bloodstream, just shy of what was then the legal limit of .10 percent.
    Partially as a result of this incident, pilots are now subject to random drug and alcohol testing.
    George Prince, owned and operated by the Louisiana Department of Highways, was originally built in 1937. The 664-foot Frosta was built in Germany in 1961.

By Professional Mariner Staff