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NTSB: Lack of preparation contributed to Bering Sea fatalities

Jan 10, 2018 11:07 AM

Two contractors were unable to escape Exito before it sank off Unalaska Island

Courtesy U.S. Coast Guard

The following is the text of a news release from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB):

(WASHINGTON) — On Dec. 6, 2016, about 2140 local time, the uninspected motor vessel Exito sank while transiting from Dutch Harbor to Akutan, Alaska. During the transit, the vessel had been struck by a wave and began listing to starboard. Unable to determine the source of the list as it progressively increased, the captain ordered Exito’s second crewmember and three contractors who were also on board to don immersion suits and abandon the vessel. The crew and one contractor evacuated to a life raft, but two contractors were unable to escape Exito before it sank.

The survivors were recovered shortly after by a good Samaritan vessel. U.S. Coast Guard aircraft, a Coast Guard cutter and other vessels searched for the missing contractors, but they were never found. About 2,000 gallons of diesel fuel, 12 55-gallon drums of antifreeze and an industrial X-ray machine were released into the sea when the vessel sank. Exito, valued at about $310,000, was lost.

Probable cause

​The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the sinking of the motor vessel Exito was progressive flooding from an undetermined location. Contributing to the loss of life was the carriage of personnel on board, other than crewmembers, who were inadequately prepared and equipped for an emergency.​

Click here to read the report.

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