On November 17, 2020, after departing Portland, Maine, the four crewmembers aboard the 82-foot-long commercial fishing vessel Emmy Rose fished for 5 days in the Gulf of Maine. On November 22, the captain notified a seafood distribution facility in Gloucester, Massachusetts, that they had about 45,000 pounds of assorted fish to offload and expected to arrive at 0600 the following morning. The crew fished for another 4 hours, departing about 1830 for Gloucester.
At 0129 on November 23, the US Coast Guard in Boston, Massachusetts, received a distress signal from the emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) registered to the Emmy Rose. There were no distress calls from the vessel before the EPIRB signal. The vessel had traveled about 45 miles to the west over the 7 hours since departing the fishing grounds. Weather conditions recorded by a nearby buoy (about 21 miles from the sinking site) at the time of the EPIRB signal were winds from the east-southeast at 17 knots, gusting to 21 knots, and the sea state was 5.6 feet observed with an easterly sea swell of 5-6 feet.
Coast Guard search and rescue assets were deployed to the area of the EPIRB signal, about 27 miles from Provincetown, Massachusetts. Search and rescue efforts continued for 38 hours and covered over 2,200 square miles. During the search, Coast Guard personnel recovered the EPIRB, the liferaft, one life ring, and two wooden fish hold hatch covers from the Emmy Rose. None of the crewmembers were located as of the date of this report, and they are presumed dead. The vessel sank in 794 feet of water and was not recovered. Its estimated value was $325,000.
We determined that the probable cause of the sinking of the fishing vessel Emmy Rose was a sudden loss of stability (capsizing) caused by water collecting on the aft deck and subsequent flooding through deck hatches, which were not watertight or weathertight because they had covers that did not have securing mechanisms, contrary to the vessel’s stability instructions and commercial fishing vessel regulations.
We made two recommendations to the US Coast Guard.