Engine Cooling and Water Leak that Disabled the Vessel


Navy 11MPL small boat being launched from Carter Hall, about 1530, prior to transiting
to stricken fishing vessels Capt. David and Miss Kaylee. (Photo by USS Carter Hall crew)

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued an investigation report on Flooding and Sinking of Fishing Vessel Capt. David, in February 2016, resulting in an estimated damage of $68,000.


On February 15, 2016, about 1440, the uninspected fishing vessel Capt. David became disabled and began flooding about 40 miles off Oregon Inlet, North Carolina, while attempting to assist another disabled fishing vessel in developing gale conditions.

The US Coast Guard responded by dispatching a shore-based motor lifeboat to assist both fishing vessels. The US Navy dock landing ship USS Carter Hall was operating nearby the stricken vessels and launched its small boat to provide assistance as well. Upon the arrival of the Navy boat at the Capt. David’s location, there was physical contact between the vessels and flooding increased on the Capt. David.

PL secured in drained well deck of Carter Hall after recovery. (Photo by USS Carter Hall crew)

At the urging of the Navy crew, the fishing vessel’s crew abandoned their vessel into the Navy boat about 1615. The fishing vessel later sank, likely the next morning. The crew of the other disabled fishing vessel declined rescue by the Navy boat and the vessel was towed back to Oregon Inlet by the Coast Guard motor lifeboat several hours later. There were no injuries and no pollution was reported.

Probable Cause

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the flooding and sinking of fishing vessel Capt. David was an engine cooling water leak that disabled the vessel during a forecasted Small Craft Advisory and developing gale conditions.

Postaccident inspection of the PL showed a scratch, some scuffing, small patches of paint loss, and some darker material transfer on stem (left). Padded foam, integrated onto the hull, protects the upper portion of the stem and gunwales. The gunwale and topside of bow area of the PL (right) had no visible signs of severe damage.


  1. Heavy Weather: Mariners should exercise caution when heavy weather is forecasted, particularly while operating small and/or single-engine vessels. Increasing winds and sea states can precede storm fronts, and an emergency during these conditions risks endangering the crew and rescue response personnel. When heavy weather is predicted, mariners should consider delaying getting under way or an early return to port once under way. Additionally, it is prudent to carry a tow line suited for the size and displacement of the vessel.
  2. Safety During Personnel Transfers at Sea: Prior to transferring from the Capt. David to the Navy boat, the fishing boat crew did not don personal flotation devices (PFDs), nor were they instructed to do so by the Navy boat crew. During the transfer, a crewmember mistimed his jump and nearly fell into the water. Based on the rough conditions and cold water, recovery of the crewmember in the water would have been difficult. Subsequent to the accident, the Navy group commander reviewed shipboard guidance to ensure procedures include donning PFDs prior to at-sea boat transfers. Even in the best conditions, individuals transferring between vessels at sea should always wear PFDs.

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Source: NTSB


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