USCG Calls Off Search for Captain of Capsized Ship Near Cape Cod

The United States Coast Guard (USCG) issued a news release on November 18, 2012, announcing that it suspended its search (seen in this video) for a fisherman after the 42-foot F/V TWIN LIGHTS capsized approximately two miles north of Provincetown, Massachusetts, at around 11:30 a.m. that morning. The Provincetown Banner reported that 69-year-old Captain Jean Frottier was struggling to free the rake on his scalloping boat from fishing gear on the sea bottom when the vessel capsized. According to the Banner, F/V GLUTTON captain Beau Gribbon was hauling lobster pots a mile west of the TWIN LIGHTS and put out the May-Day before rushing to the scene to rescue TWIN LIGHTS first mate Eric Rego.

“There was a big easterly swell, and Jean was towing to the east when he got hung up on bottom,” Gribbon told the Banner. “He came around to the west, which would be down sea, and he tried to straighten out the situation he had, and it just went bad. … We had a visual on him. The boat just rolled over immediately.”

After Gribbon and crew put Rego in a life sling and brought him onto the GLUTTON, another crewman in a dry suit swam over to the capsized TWIN LIGHTS to locate Frottier. Gribbon told the Banner that they kept knocking on the hull to try and get a response, but there was no answer. The GLUTTON captain called the situation “precarious” because “if they had opened a hatch on the TWIN LIGHTS the influx of water could have caused it to sink completely.” Gribbon told the Banner that the vessel stayed afloat for about 40 minutes, but it surrendered to the waves just as the USCG arrived.

The USCG release said crews searched more than 80 square miles with no sign of the fisherman. Petty Officer Robert Simpson, a spokesperson at the USCG’s Boston headquarters, told the Banner that state police divers summoned to the scene dove to 150 feet, but were unable to locate the vessel. According to the Banner, a number of vessels in the local fleet gathered off Race Point to help with the search, including the ANTONIO JORGE, the GOOD2GO and several lobster boats.

Simpson told the Banner that “a number of factors went into the decision” to call off the search, including “the 49-degree water temperature—which would have been difficult for a man to survive after a prolonged period of time—and the thoroughness of the search.” Gribbon told the Banner that TWIN LIGHTS first mate Rego had been “borderline hypothermic when they pulled him from the sea.”

Survivors and families of the deceased could be entitled to compensation if equipment failure contributes to a vessel’s sinking, and Latti & Anderson LLP has been representing workers injured in fishing accidents as well the families of those killed for more than five decades. Our record of verdicts and settlements obtained for clients includes a $1.7 million settlement for the estate of a crewmember killed after two ships collided near Cape Ann, Massachusetts. You can find more information about maritime deaths on our website, and you can contact our firm at (800) 392-6072 or fill out the form on this page to have our Boston maritime trial lawyers review your case if you or a loved one has been injured or killed on the high seas.

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