Crewmembers Narrowly Escape Death When Tugboat Sinks in Boston Harbor

TugboatLast week, the Emily Anne tugboat sustained a breach in the hull and took on water near the Boston Harbor. The boat began to flood and the captain barely had time to put in a distress call to the Coast Guard before the 55-foot tug went under.

Luckily, a local harbor pilot and his crew were just heading back to the city to pick up several ship pilots when they heard the distress call. The harbor pilot captain, also a good friend to the captain of the sunken tug, immediately responded, noting the urgency in the captain’s voice.

Harbor Pilot Crew Made a Speedy Rescue to Save Tugboat Crew

The harbor pilot and his crew immediately turned around and raced to the sinking tug, having pinpointed the location using a computer. By this time, the crew was already on the water at the end of the North Channel. The harbor pilot was about half a mile away when he was able to see the silhouette of the tugboat against the sunrise as it was beginning to sink beneath the waves. In minutes, it was gone.

The tugboat crew abandoned ship, but were (luckily) wearing flotation devices and were able to use the vessel’s life raft. The crew was in the water for no more than five minutes before the harbor pilot and his crew reached them and pulled them out of the 37-degree water. The crew sustained no injuries.

Use of Safety Equipment Helped Saved Crew of Sunken Tugboat

While the harbor pilot and his crew acted heroically in this situation to save the crew of the sinking tugboat, proper use of available safety equipment on board helped the crew afloat in the freezing water. Although typically, the safety equipment for tugboats and tows varies according to the type of boat and waterway, all ships should have the following safety equipment easily accessible to its crew:

  • A life boat or some other survival craft
  • A fire extinguisher
  • A bailer or bilge pumping system
  • Personal flotation devices, such as lifejackets
  • A waterproof torch
  • A lifebuoy
  • A marine radio transmitter
  • An emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB)
  • A compass

Had the tugboat crewmembers not had access to some of these devices as the vessel was sinking, the outcome could have been very different. Luckily, thanks to the safety gear they could grab under the circumstances and the quick thinking of a local harbor pilot, the tugboat crew remains safe and unharmed.

Latti & Anderson LLP is a maritime injury law firm dedicated to helping victims nationwide who have sustained injuries at sea.