The National Transportation Safety Board has released its final report regarding the capsizing of the Misty Blue fishing vessel in 2017. On December 4, 2017, the vessel capsized and sank in 75 feet of water. Two of the crew members on board tragically lost their lives in the incident. The vessel had a history of modifications that were made under different owners who required different uses out of the ship. The report notes:
Based on historical data as well as multiple surveys, investigators determined that the Misty Blue had changed owners and undergone a series of modifications from the original configuration. In September 2003, the vessel was converted for gillnetting, which included removing the shrimp-trawling gear and modifying the rigid stern gunwale to a gated configuration that allowed easier recovery of the deployed fishing nets. The vessel was sold again in December 2005 and converted for crab fishing. It was sold again in May 2009 when it was renamed Misty Blue and then underwent another conversion, this time from a crab-fishing vessel to a hydraulic dredger for surf clam fishing.
Following the modifications, no stability test was conducted on the vessel to ensure safety:
The Misty Blue’s last stability analysis in 2009 took place several years before the current owner modified the vessel (by adding a crane, a clam dredge gantry frame, a hopper dump bin, other fishing equipment, and a vibrator/shaker system). These changes were done without a professional naval architect reassessing the vessel’s stability, which, although not required by regulation, would have been prudent.
The National Transportation Safety Board determined that the probable cause of the capsizing and sinking of the ship was flooding of the port clam tank from an undetermined point of ingress. This led to a decreased freeboard and a list allowing boarding seas to be trapped on deck, thereby decreasing the vessel’s stability.
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