Fishing vessel sinking may have been due to tangled crab pot lines

The Lady Cecilia sank quickly March 10 about 20 miles west of Leadbetter Point. The four people onboard could neither escape nor send a distress signal.

After it received a hit from the boat’s Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon, the Coast Guard assembled an extensive search party including planes, helicopters and boats from Sacramento, Calif., to Port Angeles, Wash. The agency located a debris field but no sign of the vessel or the men. Coast Guard investigators from Marine Safety Unit Portland have since worked with NOAA to determine a cause for the tragedy. Since then, investigations have been underway to determine the cause of the sinking.

Hearings on the sunken fishing vessel Lady Cecelia had stalled since April, when the U.S. Coast Guard brought in the vessel’s owner, former captains and deckhands, marine examiners, boat mechanics and family to gather information on the boat, the crew and their situation before and during their final fishing trip.

On Sept. 9, the U.S. Coast Guard and FDS Marine International, LLC, found the wreck of the Lady Cecelia lodged in the mud 317 feet underwater, 20 miles west of the entrance of Willapa Bay, restarting the hearings, with interested parties anxious to see footage from the Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) that surveyed the sunken vessel.

A marine construction and salvage company owner testified this week in Warrenton, Ore., that the 70-foot trawler may have gotten tangled in some errant crab pot lines, listing one way and then capsizing the other when a stabilizing device snapped off.

This week’s hearings ended the public part of the probe, and a report may be made public by next summer.