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Coast Guard Releases Report on Lady Mary Sinking

A lack of training and experience combined with poor decision-making were contributing factors in the sinking of a commercial fishing boat off the New Jersey coast in 2009 that killed six people according to a report released Friday by the Coast Guard.

insie Lady Mary
The Lady Mary sank on March 24, 2009 about 65 miles southeast of Cape May. One crew member survived. (US Coast Guard)

The Lady Mary sank on March 24, 2009 about 65 miles southeast of Cape May. One crew member survived. The Coast Guard’s investigation concluded that a number of factors led to the boat’s sinking and that the sinking was a survivable event.

The 71-foot boat left Cape May on March 18 and after five days of fishing had caught more than 10,000 pounds of scallops. Early on the morning of March 24 the crew brought the scallop dredge on board and drifted for about four hours, according to the report.

A number of modifications over the years had gradually made the North Carolina-based vessel less safe, according to the report. In addition, a decision to open a hatch on deck was unsafe and contributed to the sinking. The report concluded that the boat wasn’t involved in a collision as originally speculated, but that sea water had gotten onto the main deck and flooded through the open hatch.

Still, the report continued, the crew could have survived the sinking.

“The vessel was outfitted with a full complement of functioning life-saving equipment and there was time for the Captain or crew to broadcast a coherent Mayday” or launch a flare, the report said. Ships in the area reported hearing a frantic, one-second transmission that sounded like a distress call.

“Due to the lack of sufficient training, the Captain and the crew were unprepared to deal with emergency situations and that negatively affected their ability to take actions to provide for their survival,” the report concluded.

Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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