Three scallop fishermen safely escaped into survival suits and a life raft after their vessel collided with a tugboat six miles off Cape May, N.J., Thursday, according to the Coast Guard.
The Coast Guard got a call for assistance from the captain of the 42’ Last Stand, a fiberglass fishing vessel out of Cape, May, who reported the boat was sinking following a collision with the 112’x35’x18’ tug Dean Reinauer operated by Reinauer Transportation Companies LLC of Staten Island, N.Y. The articulated pusher tug was enroute from New York to Delaware Bay, according to MarineTracker.com.
A 45’ medium response boat crew launched from the Cape May Coast Guard station and located the Last Stand’s crew, who were rescued without injury. The Last Stand sank, and after the rescue the tug continued on to its destination near Philadelphia. The nearshore zone off the New Jersey beaches lies west of the separation zones for big bluewater ships heading in and out of New York Harbor, but it is still a busy and potentially hazardous place for smaller vessels.
In 2007 two scallop fishermen died off Manasquan, N.J., when the 64’ Alex Mac collided with a barge under tow in heavy fog. In January 2012 fishing captain Jim Mears of Barnegat Light, N.J., died when his boat capsized after what the surviving mate described as a collision with another vessel.
Coast Guard officials credited the crew of the Last Stand for being trained for an emergency.
"The crew of the fishing vessel Last Stand was extremely prepared and knowledgeable on their safety equipment and procedures,” petty officer 2nd Class James Pappas, who was officer of the day at the Cape May station during the rescue, said in the Coast Guard account of the incident. “Their readiness allowed them to abandon ship within 10 minutes of the collision, including scrambling into their survival suits and ultimately into their life raft. They saved their own lives."