Lady of Grace fatalities caused by ice build-up; Coast Guard assists disabled scallop boat south of Nantucket

Charlotte Jean II lost steering in 40-knot wind and 15-20 foot seas today

cutter_sanibel_280_323The Coast Guard reports that it aided a scallop boat crew today when their boat lost steering ability in frigid waters about 15 miles south of Nantucket

Faced with 10-15 foot seas, 40-knot gusts and and icing conditions, the crew aboard the Charlotte Jean II radioed Coast Guard Sector Southeastern New England at about 4 a.m., when their gear failed.

The sector dispatched the Woods Hole stationed Coast Guard Cutter Sanibel (on right), which arrived at about 8:45 a.m., and took the New Bedford-based boat in tow.

The Sanibel is scheduled to pass the tow to another fishing boat near New Bedford at about 5 p.m.

Ice buildup likely caused Lady of Grace to sink
Four died in tragedy a year ago today

Coast Guard investigators announced today that the New Bedford-based fishing vessel Lady of Grace most likely sank because added weight from excessive ice build up on its superstructure and rigging raised the vessel's center of gravity too high, causing it to capsize.

ladyofgracesalv400_400_01Lady of Grace (on right) sank 12 miles south of Hyannis on January 26, 2007, claiming the lives of all four people aboard.  The photo on right shows the boat being hoisted to a dock after its salvage last summer.

Because there were no eyewitnesses or radio contact with the crew, Coast Guard investigators spoke with other fishing vessel crews operating in the area during the same time and used recorded weather observations from the period surrounding the sinking to reconstruct what most likely happened.

Additionally, naval architects from the Marine Safety Center at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C., did a stability analysis of Lady of Grace under the icing conditions it had encountered.

See video of towThree years before she sank, the Lady of Grace required a tow from the Coast Guard, see stories on left and click on image above to see video of first rescue in Jan. '07."Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of the fishermen who died," said Capt. Raymond Perry, commander of Coast Guard Sector Southeastern New England.

"While these experienced New Bedford fishermen lost their lives, we hope that their legacy and the lessons learned from the investigation will help keep similar tragedies from happening."

Over the last 15 years, 194 commercial fishing vessels were lost in the Northeast due to capsizing or sinking. Two of those accidents, including the Lady of Grace, have been directly attributed to icing.

The report is available to the public under "Marine Casualty Reports" here .
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