Was the F/V LADY CECILIA Seaworthy?

As the investigation into the sinking of the F/V LADY CECILIA continues, one of the biggest questions yet to be answered is whether the vessel was seaworthy. Investigators suspect the vessel sank very fast, possibly in a matter of seconds, but they don’t know what caused it to sink. The first round of public hearings was held in April, during which investigators heard four days of testimony and questioning.

The F/V LADY CECILIA sank off the coast of Washington on Mar. 10. According to Capt. Bruce Jones, commander of Coast Guard Sector Columbia River, “The Coast Guard is committed to examining the causes of the loss of the LADY CECILIA and her crew in order to pass on lessons learned and reduce the chances of future similar tragedies.”

The ill-fated vessel was homeported in Warrenton, Ore., and owned by Tom Kent and his father Dale Kent. Tom claims the vessel was safe to operate, but others question whether it was seaworthy when it left for what would be its final trip.

Amy Mallory, the girlfriend of victim Jason Bjaranson, 38, has said that Bjaranson “had hesitations about the safety of the boat” and didn’t feel good about going out on it. Some deficiencies were found during a safety inspection last October, but a follow-up investigation indicated the problems had been corrected.

Earlier this month, the Coast Guard hired a marine salvage company to locate the sunken vessel. Underwater cameras captured footage of the wreckage, which investigators are currently analyzing. Hopefully that footage will help investigators explain why the F/V LADY CECILIA suddenly sank in the Pacific Ocean. If it turns out the vessel was unseaworthy, the victims’ families will likely be entitled to compensation from the owners.

Examples of an unseaworthy vessel could range from problems with the vessel’s stability, improper pumping and alarm systems, lack of proper life saving and survival equipment, improperly maintained life rafts and survival suits to lack of and/or insufficient repairs and maintenance to vessel.

Latti & Anderson LLP has obtained significant verdicts and settlements in maritime death cases. If your family member died in a commercial fishing accident, visit our website to learn how a Boston maritime attorney can help.

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