Another tragedy has struck the local New England fishing community with the sinking of the F/V MISTY BLUE which is based in New Bedford but owned and operated by companies from Cape May, New Jersey of Atlantic Cape Fisheries, Inc. and F/V MISTY BLUE LLC. Currently, the USCG, local agencies and good Samaritans are searching for the two missing crew members, one who has been identified as Michael Roberts, 49, of Fairhaven, Massachusetts and Jonathan Saraiva, 22. The F/V MISTY BLUE sank Monday Evening, December 4, 2017 at approximately 6:10 pm. The USCG received a distress call from the F/V MISTY BLUE’S EPIRB. An EPIRB is an emergency radio beacon that indicates the fishing vessels last position. It can be activated manually by crew members or automatically when the EPRIB hits a certain depth in the ocean.
Capt. Eric Arabian, 44 and crew member Colby McMullen, 22 were rescued by the fellow clamming vessel the F/V ENTERPRISE which was in the area. The crew members were found in a life raft and were transferred to a Coast Guard patrol boat. According to reports, two crew members were able to done survival suits before the vessel went over and two crew members were last seen putting on their survival suits. Survival suits are a full body waterproof dry suit that protects the wearer from hypothermia after immersion in the water usually after someone abandons ship or from a capsized vessel. Mr. Roberts was last seen by the captain donning a survival suit before the F/V MISTY BLUE flipped over and sank. The Code of Federal Regulations require that on fishing vessels the survival suits must be in good working order and readily accessible. Many fishing vessel’s company policies require monthly safety drills that consist of the inspecting the survival suits to make sure they are in good working order, practicing putting on the survival suits and practicing abandoning ship.
According to the USCG, investigation into the cause of the sinking is already underway. It will be important to interview the surviving crew members to determine and learn about the events that led up to the sinking. Possible causes could be excessive flooding whether it be in the holds or engine room or whether the vessel sank due to stability issues.