Coast Guard releases review of Mexico’s report of investigation on sinking of the passenger vessel Erik

Coast Guard Headquarters News
Washington, DC – The U.S. Coast Guard today released its review of Mexico’s Secretary of Communications and Transportation report of investigation of the passenger vessel Erik sinking that claimed eight lives in 2011.

On July 3, 2011, Passenger Vessel Erik capsized and sank in the Sea of Cortez near Isla San Luis, Mexico during rough weather conditions.  The sport fishing tour boat carried 16 crew of Mexican nationality and 27 passengers of North American nationality.  One passenger died and seven more are missing and presumed dead – all U.S. citizens from northern California.   All others were rescued or swam to shore.  The U.S. Coast Guard assisted Mexico in searching more than 7,000 square miles.  With no signs of the missing passengers after 10 days, the Mexican Navy suspended active search operations and no longer requested U.S. Coast Guard assistance.

The Mexican government launched an investigation to understand what happened during the incident.  As a Marine Safety Investigative State under the International Maritime Organization and consistent with generally accepted international marine casualty investigation practices and with statutory authority in 46 USC 6101(g) and 6301, the U.S. Coast Guard participated in the investigation.

In February 2013, the Mexican government shared their findings with the U.S. government.

After reviewing the report the Coast Guard’s review agreed with Mexico’s Marine Board regarding:

  • The owner of the vessel completed major modifications altering the Erik original design. These alterations changed the stability calculations for the vessel and reduced its watertight integrity.
  • The master and the crew failed to properly provide a safety orientation to the passengers for vessel equipment and lifesaving capabilities.
  • The master of the vessel failed to establish an abandon ship plan once it was obvious the vessel stability was compromised due to flooding of spaces below deck.
  • The vessel sank due to loss of buoyancy and stability by flooding of interior compartments including the engine room, and accommodation and storage spaces.
  • The Captain of the Port San Felipe failed to apply its jurisdiction to very compliance for all major modifications on the passenger vessel Erik, including the extension for 7 days of its expired National Marine Safety Certificate on July 2, 2011.

Beyond the Coast Guard’s participation in the investigation, the State Department played a key role throughout the incident. Primarily it advocated for the U.S. citizens involved in the incident and provided the link to the Government of Mexico.

The Coast Guard places the highest priority on the safety of passenger vessels, including those domestic and foreign vessels that embark passengers in the United States and embark U.S. passengers world-wide, ensuring they are in compliance with applicable international and domestic standards.

The final report of the investigation is available online on the Coast Guard Homeport website at

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