Coast Guard escorts fishing vessel Sao Jacinto to New Bedford Harbor

BOSTON – A Coast Guard 47-foot Motor Life Boat from Station Menemsha on Martha’s Vineyard is escorting a 69-foot New Bedford, Mass.-based scalloper back to its home port Wednesday after it was pulled off rocks on Brenton Reef near Newport, R.I.

A Coast Guard Sector Southeastern New England marine inspector is aboard the commercial salvage tug towing the fishing vessel, and is expected to arrive at New Bedford Harbor around 7 p.m.

Karen Maria Trawling Company, the responsible party, contracted with a commercial salvage tug boat, which freed the fishing vessel from rocks at about 2:30 p.m.

Earlier, a Station Castle Hill, R.I. 25-foot response boat coordinated the rescue of the Sao Jacinto’s four-person crew, who were unharmed.

An Air Station Cape Cod crew aboard an HU-25 Falcon jet observed a light oil sheen during an earlier fly over, which was confirmed to be from the fishing vessel but has since evaporated. The sheen was caused by a small amount of oil leaking from the vessel’s fuel fill pipe. That source was plugged and no further sheening was reported.

Station Castle Hill personnel screened the crew for alcohol and the results were negative. The Coast Guard has also ordered that the fishermen receive drug tests, the results of which are still pending.

Sao Jacinto’s owners contracted with local divers who surveyed the hull and no major damage was discovered.

“We were concerned that the fishing boat’s integral fuel tanks may have been compromised during the grounding and when it was dragged free from the rocks,” said Chief Petty Officer Mark Bisnette from Sector Southeastern New England in Woods Hole, Mass. “Divers and Coast Guard responders discovered a one-inch hole in the hull that did not involve the fuel tanks; that hole was quickly secured. We are fortunate that the crew was unharmed and we will investigate the cause of the grounding.”

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