Tuesday afternoon around 3:30 p.m., January 14th, a collision occurred near the Galveston jetties between a fishing boat and a petrochemical tanker. Authorities reported the two boats collided during intense fog, causing the smaller fishing boat to capsize. According to the Galveston County Daily News, four crewmembers of the fishing boat were thrown overboard in the crash. Two of them were pulled from the water by a “good Samaritan vessel and a Coast Guard medium response boat,” and were transferred to emergency medical services personnel. One of the rescued crewmembers was declared dead before 6:00 p.m. on the 14th after being unresponsive to CPR, according to authorities. The other rescued crewmember remains with medical personnel at UTMB.
The remaining two crewmembers of the fishing boat have not been found. A search team of two Coast Guard boats, Galveston beach patrol, the Galveston Police Department, and multiple other vessels searched late into Tuesday, eventually suspending the search around 8:00 p.m. due to heavy fog. As of late afternoon the following day, January 15th, the two missing crewmembers have not been located despite a continued search effort by the Coast Guard. The search team has expanded to include helicopters and first responders from Galveston and Texas City, along with the Coast Guard, Galveston Island Beach Patrol, and several civilian boats.
Commander Jordan Baldueza, Sector Houston-Galveston search and rescue mission coordinator, stated:
Our heartfelt condolences go out to the family and friends of all those affected by this tragic event. Our search and rescue efforts remain our top priority at this time.
The 600-foot petrochemical tanker involved in the collision has been identified as the Norwegian-flagged Bow Fortune, and the smaller 81-foot fishing boat has been identified as Pappy’s Pride. The collision occurred near the two long granite jetties that mark the entrance to the Houston-Galveston Ship Channel. The Bow Fortune’s operator gave a statement regarding the collision:
At the time of the incident, Bow Fortune was inbound and under pilotage as first vessel in a convoy. At the time of the incident, there was heavy fog in the area. Tragically, we have received reports that one of the four crew members onboard the fishing boat has lost his life. We are saddened by this information and wish to express our heartfelt condolences to his family. We are also deeply concerned about the reports that two of the crewmembers on the fishing boat are still missing . . . [the operator] takes this matter very seriously. Together with the P&I club Guard, we cooperate fully with U.S. authorities to ensure that we initiate all necessary actions.
The Bow Fortune is currently moored in Galveston, with all crewmembers accounted for. The vessel is intact, with no pollution stemming from the ship, according to the operator. The exact circumstances surrounding the cause of the collision are unclear due to the fog, but the investigation remains open.
Our experienced maritime lawyers at Morrow & Sheppard will update as to the search efforts as information becomes available. We offer our condolences to the family of the victim in this tragic event.