Engine room flooding leads to sinking of fishing vessel

Engine room flooding leads to sinking of fishing vessel
Engine room flooding leads to sinking of fishing vessel

Uncontrolled flooding through a hole in the plating beneath the engine room of a fishing vessel led to its sinking in the Gulf of Mexico, the National Transportation Safety Board report has revealed.

The commercial fishing vessel Captain Alex was fishing offshore of Galveston, Texas on 25 November 2022, when the vessel began flooding. The four crewmembers on board were unable to stem the flooding and evacuated to a responding U.S. Coast Guard boat. The sinking resulted in an oil sheen and debris field; a reported 17,000 gallons of diesel fuel were on board. There were no injuries. The Captain Alex was a total loss valued at $500,000.

​The Coast Guard responded to the Captain Alex’s call for assistance as the vessel was taking on water. The Coast Guard floated a dewatering pump to the Captain Alex’s crew; however, the pump was not able to pull water and later broke. With the vessel continuing to take on water, the crew evacuated the vessel.

A postcasualty exam of the vessel did not occur as the wreckage was not salvaged. The investigation was unable to obtain information about hull maintenance, and the last vessel survey noted that no recent hull gauging report or maintenance records were available. It is possible the hole was caused by the deterioration of the hull steel plating.

“Periodic out-of-water examinations by qualified individuals such as a marine inspectors or surveyors can help determine the material condition of the vessel’s hull and identify areas of corrosion and fatigue,” the report said. “For steel-hulled vessels, regular gauging of the hull using ultrasonic testing is an effective nondestructive testing method for identifying material deterioration of plating.”

Download the report: Flooding and Sinking of Fishing Vessel Captain Alex

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