The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) released the results of its investigation into the June 2010 sinking of the U.S. flagged Distant Water Tuna Fleet vessel Majestic Blue 2,100 miles southwest of Hawaii, Friday.
The investigation revealed twenty-two crewmembers safely abandoned ship and were rescued by a sister ship but the master and chief engineer remain missing and presumed deceased.
The investigation was unable to determine the exact cause of flooding that originated in the steering compartment where steel work was previously performed during an overseas shipyard visit.
However, the investigation determined that the immediate secondary cause of the sinking was due to a shipboard practice of leaving watertight doors open. This caused continued progressive flooding through the open doors throughout the vessel.
In addition, response to the flooding was hampered because the engineering officers could not read or communicate in English and were unfamiliar with emergency response procedures. Under special legislation afforded to the Distant Water Tuna Fleet only the vessel’s captain needed to be a U.S. citizen.
The Coast Guard investigating officer recommended and the Coast Guard commandant concurred that a large fishing vessel of this size should receive additional oversight.
"A benefit of sharing a report of investigation is an opportunity for all fishermen and mariners to learn something from this casualty," said Cmdr. Jonathan Maiorine, chief of inspections and investigations for the Fourteenth Coast Guard District. "By reevaluating their own onboard procedures for training, communications and emergency drills we hope to prevent similar tragedies in the future."
The entire report of investigation is available for download on the Coast Guard Homeport website under the investigations tab.