Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Lost at Sea—PART 3

Lost at Sea—PART 3: A small fishing trawler’s sudden sinking and loss of its young crew leave questions unanswered.

Excerpt from U.S. Coast Guard Proceedings of the Marine Safety and Security Council magazine by Ms. Daisy R. Khalifa, technical writer.

Lessons Learned
Investigators provided comments on the analysis of the casualty that underscored concerns about the deployment of lifesaving equipment. Without hard facts to support their opinions, investigators said they believed one or more of the following were factors in the failure of the life raft to separate from the sinking vessel:
  • the hydrostatic release unit, if one existed, did not work,
  • the painter was secured directly to the cradle, bypassing the weak link
  • the life raft became tangled up in fishing gear as the vessel sank, preventing it from inflating until it was too deep for the inflation systems to overcome hydrostatic pressure.
The fact that the life raft remained tethered to the vessel because of a design flaw resonated with the public and within the commercial fishing community, where a fair amount of speculation as to exactly what went wrong with the raft continues. Many in the industry took away from the casualty an important lesson learned with regard to checking weak links before getting underway on another fishing trip.

The vessel casualty in the Gulf of Maine in which the lives of two young men were taken came only one week after the tragic sinking and loss of four crewmembers on the F/V Lady of Grace in Nantucket Sound. Both casualties bore striking similarities, characterized by instability and rapid sinking in the rough January seas off the coast of New England.

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