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Malfunctions may have caused deadly ship collision

MOSS POINT — The Coast Guard said malfunctions on Omega Protein’s fishing boat Sandy Point may have led to its collision with a 660-foot container ship in the Mississippi Sound channel on May 18 that resulted in the death of three men.

Capt. Don Rose, sector commander for the U.S. Coast Guard’s Mobile, Ala., sector, tells The Mississippi Press that the investigation is not complete.

The 163-foot Sandy Point sank after the collision with the outbound 660-foot Eurus London that was loaded with bananas.

Thirteen Omega Protein employees were rescued after the collision.

“Our sense is that there were probably some failures in the Sandy Point,” Rose said yesterday. “Its propulsion and navigation systems, rudder systems, contributed to their inability to maintain control in the channel.”

Rose said a study of the engine room and engine control system has not been completed, he said.

“That was tragic that they literally turned across the bow of a large outbound container ship and that certainly was not something the master of the Sandy Point was intending to do.

“I would say at this point some of the initial data indicates there might have been some failure in some of the rudder mechanisms on the vessel. Not conclusive, but there may have been some evidence that was what caused the vessel to drift into the head of the container vessel,” Rose said.

Completing the investigation may take several months as it is reviewed at various levels, he said.

The Sandy Point was cut in two and raised from the bottom of the Mississippi Sound in June.

The vessel operated out of Omega Protein’s Moss Point plant.

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