Thursday, December 22, 2011

Lessons Learned: A Turn for the Worse-- Part 3

A routine passage turns tragic.

Excerpt from U.S. Coast Guard Proceedings of the Marine Safety & Security Council magazine by Ms. Carolyn Steele.

Tragedy strikes the crewmembers
The yacht’s bilge alarms went off, and the vessel began to creak loudly. The captain told the cook to get over to the tender. He then tried to cast off the tender’s line from the yacht’s stern, but at that moment, the yacht sank from under him—throwing him into the water.

As the cook was swimming toward the tender and the mate was reaching out to her, the tender was pulled out from under him, sinking rapidly as the yacht slipped off the bow of the cargo ship. The captain and the mate found each other in the water, but they lost sight of the cook, who had either been dragged underwater by the towline between the yacht and the tender, or been struck by the tender and dragged underwater as the yacht sank.

A crewmember on the cargo ship threw the survivors a life ring with a strobe light, and lowered a lifeboat. At 4:25 a.m., a Coast Guard rescue boat arrived and recovered the mate and the cook, both found floating in the water. They moved the cook into the rescue boat, and immediately began administering CPR. The captain of the yacht was brought aboard the cargo ship.

At 5:03 a.m., the rescue team arrived at Sector Long Island Sound with the yacht’s mate and cook. An ambulance took them to Yale-New Haven Hospital, where the cook was pronounced dead. The mate was treated for mild hypothermia and released. Another Coast Guard rescue vessel was sent out to transport the captain, who had minor injuries, from the cargo ship to Sector Long Island Sound.

The cargo ship suffered no damage as a result of the collision. The sailboat sank, and was a total loss.

In part 4 we will reveal the results of the investigation.

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