Ice buildup likely caused Lady of Grace to sink

BOSTON – Coast Guard investigators announced today that the New Bedford-based fishing vessel Lady of Grace most likely sank because added weight from excessive ice build up on its superstructure and rigging raised the vessel’s center of gravity too high, causing it to capsize.

The Lady of Grace sank 12 miles south of Hyannis, Mass., Jan. 26, 2007, claiming the lives of all four people aboard.

Because there were no eyewitnesses or radio contact with the crew, Coast Guard investigators spoke with other fishing vessel crews operating in the area during the same time and used recorded weather observations from the period surrounding the sinking to reconstruct what most likely happened.

Additionally, naval architects from the Marine Safety Center at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C., did a stability analysis of the Lady of Grace under the icing conditions it had encountered.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of the fishermen who died,” said Capt. Raymond Perry, commander of Coast Guard Sector Southeastern New England. “While these experienced New Bedford fishermen lost their lives, we hope that their legacy and the lessons learned from the investigation will help keep similar tragedies from happening.”

Over the last 15 years, 194 commercial fishing vessels were lost in the Northeast due to capsizing or sinking. Two of those accidents, including the Lady of Grace, have been directly attributed to icing.

The report is available to the public at Marine Casualty Reports.

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