The Coast Guard is searching for four crew members who were aboard a Portland-based fishing boat that sank early Monday morning off the coast of Massachusetts.
Searchers found only debris and an empty life raft Monday morning after responding to an emergency distress signal, although an air and sea search continues.
Maine’s fishing families are “hoping for the best and fearing the worst” as they await news about the missing crew, said Ben Martens, executive director of the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association.
“For all those on the working waterfront who are fisherman and their families, right now stress and anxiety is through the roof,” Martens said. “It’s an entire community that starts to feel that stress and anxiety and fear and hope all at the same time.”
The 82-foot fishing vessel sank about 20 miles northeast of Provincetown, Massachusetts, according to the Coast Guard. The First District Coast Guard Command Center in Boston received a notification at 1 a.m. Monday from the Emmy Rose’s emergency position indicating radio beacon, which is automatically activated when a vessel sinks or capsizes.
Coast Guard crews discovered debris and an empty life raft in the area of the vessel’s last known position. There are 30-knot winds and seas of 6 to 8 feet in the area Monday morning.
The vessel’s owner reported there were four people aboard and there were no answers to the boat’s satellite phone, according to the Coast Guard. The names of the vessel owner and crew have not been released by the Coast Guard.
After the emergency notification was received, the Coast Guard launched an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew and Cutter Vigorous to search for the Emmy Rose.
The search includes two cutters, aircraft and a motor life boat, according to the Coast Guard.
The captain and crew members are all young, experienced fishermen who have worked on the Emmy Rose and other local boats, said Alan Tracy, president of Vessel Services, a fishing industry supplier in Portland.
“This boat was very much a part of our fishing community here on the Portland waterfront,” he said. “The crew, captain and owner are all well known to us and everyone on the Portland Fish Pier.”
Tracy said the crew loaded the groundfishing vessel with ice from Vessel Services on Wednesday and it left Portland either that day or Thursday. Other captains fishing in the area saw them this weekend and it’s believed the Emmy Rose was headed into Gloucester to land fish, he said.
“All looked well, then overnight something terrible happened,” Tracy said.
Bert Jongerden, general manager of the Portland Fish Exchange, said Monday is a sad day on the waterfront in Portland, where people were still waiting for news about the Emmy Rose crew. Jongerden said he knows the captain and owner but he said he did not want to identify them in respect for the families who are waiting.
“It’s an unfortunate part of our business. It is a dangerous profession,” he said. “There are a lot of people on the waterfront who are upset today. We send our best wishes to the families of the captain and crew of the vessel.”
Martens, executive director of the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association, said the news comes during a difficult year, which began with sinking of another Maine vessel and the death of two fishermen.
The Hayley Ann sank 50 miles southeast of Portland on Jan. 24, killing Arnold “Joe” Nickerson IV, the 60-year-old captain from Arundel, and 44-year-old crew member Christopher Pinkham of Boothbay Harbor.
“In Portland and in Maine we’ve had more than our share of losses this year when it comes to the fishing industry,” Martens said. “We’re still hopeful, but it’s really, really scary.”
— Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association (@MaineFishermen) November 23, 2020
This story will be updated.
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