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USCG says response to trawler sinking was too slow

Jun 15, 2009
Even the best efforts of the Coast Guard could not have saved the lives of fishermen Matteo Russo and John Orlando, according to a Coast Guard report released today.  Both men drowned almost instantly when their trawler, the 54-foot Patriot, sank offshore around 1:30 a.m. on January 3rd.  But the incident nonetheless revealed shortcomings in the agency's search and rescue procedures.

From the Boston Globe:

Coast Guard officials said, however, that response efforts should have been quicker, and the agency will take steps to improve its actions. The Coast Guard was notified about a possible problem aboard the 54-foot Patriot at 1:35 a.m, but failed to launch search vessels until nearly 4 a.m., [Atlantic area commander, Vice Admiral Robert J.] Papp said. A rescue helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod did not arrive until after 5 a.m., he also said.

"Our review of this case showed that we were slow to launch search and rescue assets because of poor collection and analysis of information, and decision making regarding the Patriot's status," Papp said in a statement. "The remedial actions I'm requiring are designed to ensure that our people have the right tools, experience and training to be able to act quickly and decisively when emergent and unpredictable cases happen.•bCrLf

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