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Container Ship Sinks Fishing Boat, 3 Missing

On May 19, 2011 the fishing vessel Sandy Point, owned by Omega Protein was struck broadside and sunk by a 660 foot container ship. Three crewman remain missing.

The fishing vessel, Sandy Point, was a 163 foot pogy boat owned by Omega Protein which operates a processing plant in Moss Point. The vessel was carrying a load of menhaden fish, also called pogy.

The container vessel that struck her was the Eurus London. It was carrying Chiquita bananas on its way to Freeport, Texas at the time of the accident.

The incident happened Thursday evening around 8:50 p.m. in the Gulfport Shipping Channel near the west tip of West Ship Island. The Sandy Point went down east side of the shipping channel.

A team of rescue divers from the state Department of Marine Resources (DMR) and the Biloxi Police Department (BPD) spent several hours in the dark, murky waters in the night to try to locate the missing crew. They were able to locate the wreckage 25 feet below the surface but did not locate any of the missing crew.

Officials are hoping that if the crew members are trapped inside the boat that there may be air pockets that could keep them alive. There is an urgency to the search.

An article at the SunHerald.com website reported on the story:
A pilot boat rescued 11 people from the water and transferred them to the fishing vessel Frosty Morn, said Coast Guard Lt. j.g. Israel Parker. Two additional crew members of the Sandy Point made it on their own to the Eurus London, Parker said.

The U.S. Coast Guard is conducting a full search and rescue operation to try to locate the missing crew members. According to Captain Don Rose, commanding officer for Coast Guard Sector Mobile, “As always, the preservation of human life is our first priority.”

During the investigation and search the shipping channel will remain closed to traffic.

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