Cargo Ship and Fishing Trawler Collision off Newfoundland Kills Three

Thursday, August 09, 2001
A Cypriot tanker is being been detained in the eastern Canadian province of Newfoundland after a reported collision between a cargo ship and a U.S. trawler off the coast of Massachusetts killed three fishermen, the U.S. Coast Guard said on Wednesday.

The sinking of the U.S. fishing boat Starbound, which happened on Sunday night, was first reported by the Lloyds Shipping wire service out of London. Canadian television showed footage on Wednesday of what it said were gouges on the side of the tanker Virgo and of a hearse driving away from the dock after the ship was detained.

The U.S. Coast Guard is leading the investigation into the incident and one U.S. investigator was in Newfoundland on Wednesday to look at the Virgo, which is docked at a refinery owned by North Atlantic Refining Ltd., where the tanker was scheduled to take on cargo.

"Transport Canada is assisting us in our investigation and the Virgo is one of more than 12 vessels that have been inspected. We are still looking for the one," U.S Coast Guard Petty Officer Andrea Stevenson said.

The 105,000 bpd refinery at Come By Chance, Newfoundland, is owned by a unit of Dutch trading house Vitol SA. The plant takes in mostly imported crude oil and exports most of its petroleum products to the United States.

Glenn Mifflin, chief executive of North Atlantic Refining, said there was absolutely no activity in or around the vessel on Wednesday. CBC reported the crew had also been detained on board the tanker.

"We have suspended loading operations and the crew is sitting idle, just waiting for inspections by any authorities which may wish to inspect the vessel," Mifflin said. He added that the crew had been requested to stay on the ship.

It was reported that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said the Virgo was damaged below the waterline, but the information could not be confirmed.

The Starbound fishing trawler was hit early on Sunday about 130 miles off Cape Ann, Mass., sinking immediately after the impact.

The only survivor of the 83-ft. (25-m), steel hulled fishing vessel was its captain, Joseph Marcantonio of Gloucester, Mass. The U.S. Coast Guard recovered the body of crewman James Sanfillippo, of Thomaston, Maine. Two others, Mark Doughty of Yarmouth, Maine, and Thomas Fronterio of Gloucester were presumed drowned.

Marcantonio made it to a self-inflating liferaft that surfaced after the trawler went down. He was picked up by another fishing boat after a few hours. -- (Reuters)

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