Just two months before it sank following a dramatic rescue on Feb. 14, the 65-foot fishing vessel Sea Star required an emergency tow from the Coast Guard.
Disabled 15 nautical miles southeast of Block Island, Sea Star radioed for help at 2:15 pm on Dec. 13, according to Ensign Nathan Mendes. In response, a motor lifeboat was deployed from Station Menemsha. The motor lifeboat crew reached the Sea Star five hours later. While en route, the motor lifeboat crew was told by the Sea Star crew that “excessive water in the fuel line” had crippled the vessel, Mendes said.
Sea Star’s distress “was the result of contaminated fuel” that caused the engine to fail, said Robert Vanasse, spokesman for Old Testament Fisheries, LLC, the operator of the vessel. Andrew Arnett captained the Sea Star on Dec. 13 and the day it sank, Vanasse said.
The motor lifeboat took the Sea Star in tow and rendezvoused with the tugboat Roy Boys just south of Butler Flats Lighthouse in the entrance channel to New Bedford Harbor, Chief Robert Parent said. Parent was the command duty officer at Station Menemsha that night.
Roy Boys subsequently took the Sea Star in tow to the harbor, tug owner Conrad Roy Sr. told The Times. Roy said he didn’t know what was wrong with the boat and simply described the Sea Star as “broken down.”
The Station Menemsha crew didn’t examine Sea Star’s engine or fuel lines, according to Mendes. Parent specified further the crew didn’t board the vessel at all.
Sea Star passed Coast Guard inspections in August and October of 2017, Vanasse said.
Officials at the Coast Guard Fishing Vessel Safety Office in New Bedford could not be immediately reached for verification of the Sea Star’s most recent inspections.
The February sinking of the Sea Star remains under investigation by the Coast Guard.