Coast Guard examines Patriot using underwater vehicle

BOSTON- Coast Guard crews conducted an underwater examination Friday of the Gloucester, Mass.-based fishing vessel Patriot, which sank Jan. 3, claiming the lives of both crew members aboard.

Coast Guard Maritime Safety and Security Teams deployed a remotely operated vehicle from the Coast Guard Cutter Juniper, a 225-foot buoy tender from Newport, R.I., to capture footage of the sunken vessel for Coast Guard marine casualty investigators.

The Patriot currently rests on its starboard side about 18 miles east of Gloucester. The ROV footage will serve as another piece of evidence for investigators to consider in trying to determine what caused the 54-foot stern trawler to sink.

Following analysis of the ROV footage, the Coast Guard plans to work with naval architects at the Marine Safety Center at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C., to generate computer models to reconstruct scenarios of why the vessel may have sank.

“Each Coast Guard marine casualty investigation is unique,” said Lt. Cmdr. Keith Hanley, the senior investigator for the First Coast Guard District in Boston. “Though there are no witnesses or survivors to this tragic event, our goal is to determine, as closely as possible, the cause of the accident. However, the Coast Guard must determine what investigative actions are appropriate for a specific case based on the likely value to marine safety, available resources, and risks in a given port.”

On January 22, a metallurgist from the National Transportation Safety Board examined the towline from the tug and barge that was in the vicinity of the Patriot’s last known position at the time of casualty. The towline will remain in Coast Guard custody for the duration of the investigation and the NTSB’s findings will be included as evidence in the case.

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