F/V LADY CECILIA Wreckage Found

The F/V LADY CECILIA, which sank on Mar. 10 in the Pacific Ocean, has been located. The 70-foot trawler, also identified as the F/V LADY CECELIA, was found in 460 feet of water approximately 20 miles off the Washington coast. The bodies of its four-member crew have yet to be recovered.

FDS Marine International, the Portland-based marine salvage company hired by the Coast Guard to find the sunken vessel, located the wreckage on the second day of searching, using a remote-controlled submarine equipped with cameras, lights and sonar.

When the F/V LADY CECILIA sank, its automated emergency radio beacon sent out a distress signal. Coast Guard responders discovered a debris field and an empty self-inflating life raft, but no sign of the crew. After an extensive search that covered 640 square miles, Chris Langel, 25, of Kaukauna, Wis., Luke Jensen, 22, of Ilwaco, Wash., Dave Nichols, 43, and Jason Bjaranson, 38, both of Warrenton, Ore., were all presumed dead.

The investigation into this tragic loss of life is ongoing. All that is known right now is the vessel appears to have sunk very quickly, possibly in a matter of seconds. The Coast Guard says investigators will closely analyze the underwater video over the next few weeks, with the findings to be presented at a future public hearing in Astoria, Ore.

The underwater video is very important in analyzing what happened to the vessel. For example, in a case years ago, attorneys from Latti & Anderson LLP were able to defeat the boat owner’s argument that a commercial fishing vessel sunk due to being hit another vessel. We did so by hiring of an independent ROV, which went out to the area where the vessel sank and videotaped the ocean floor hoping to find the vessel. Luckily, the vessel was found on the bottom of the ocean floor in one piece, which indicated it was not struck by another vessel. Hiring the independent ROV was key investigation for this firm in securing a settlement for the families of the lost crew.

While no amount of compensation can bring back a loved one, commercial fishing companies should be held accountable when negligence or unseaworthiness causes a fisherman’s death. If your family member perished in a commercial fishing accident, visit our website to learn more about maritime death claims, and call us at (800) 392-6072 for a free consultation with an experienced Boston maritime attorney.

Latti & Anderson LLP – Boston maritime trial lawyers