Body of crewmember recovered after workboat capsizes in Charleston harbor

The body of a crewmember who was missing after a workboat under tow by the dredge Brunswick capsized in the harbor at Charleston, S.C. was recovered Friday morning, Coast Guard officials said.

The boat with two crew on board was off the city’s Battery, near the main harbor and Ashley River channels, when the accident was reported to Coast Guard watchstanders at 9:51 p.m. Thursday.

An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew launched from Charleston along with two response boat crews, who searched through the night and again at first light Friday.

Charleston and North Charleston police and fire marine units joined in the search, along with the Charleston County Sheriff’s Department and South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. At about 7:50 a.m. Friday, Coast Guard watchstanders got a report from a fisherman who sighted a body near Orangegrove Creek off the Ashley River.

The Charleston County coroner’s office identified the crewman as Derrick Nesmith, 49, of Goose Creek, S.C.

“While the response was immediate and involved eight agencies, we were ultimately unable to locate the mariner in time. Our condolences go out to the family, friends, and coworkers dealing with this heartbreaking loss,” said Capt. John Reed, commander of Coast Guard Sector Charleston, in a statement.

Coast Guard boat crews went to the scene but could not get into shallows to retrieve the body, and sheriff’s officers brought in an airboat to make the recovery.

The dredge operator Southern Dredging Co., Inc., Charleston, was coordinating salvage of the workboat. The cause of the capsizing is under investigation, according to the Coast Guard.

About the author

Kirk Moore

Associate Editor Kirk Moore was a reporter for the Asbury Park Press for over 30 years before joining WorkBoat in 2015. He wrote several award-winning stories on marine, environmental, coastal and military issues that helped drive federal and state government policy changes. He has also been a field editor for WorkBoat’s sister publication, National Fisherman, for almost 25 years. Moore was awarded the Online News Association 2011 Knight Award for Public Service for the “Barnegat Bay Under Stress,” 2010 series that led to the New Jersey state government’s restoration plan. He lives in West Creek, N.J.

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