GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Patriot Stories

January 9, 2009

TUG focus of Patriot Probe

Coast Guard confiscates cable connected to barge for study in sinking

Coast Guard officials said last night that a tug towing a barge has become the focus of the investigation into the sinking a week ago this morning of the recently outfitted, steel-hulled commercial fishing boat Patriot that went to the bottom killing both crew members.

Coast Guard Capt. Gail Kulisch, commander of Sector Boston, declined to identify the tug or provide any details about its role in the investigation into the mysterious incident that occurred in relatively calm seas about 15 miles from the Gloucester home port of the Patriot and its crew, Capt. Matteo Russo, 36, and his father-in-law, John Orlando, 59.

Kulisch said the 2,000-foot-long, 21�Ñ2-inch thick steel cable the tug was using to the barge has been taken into "evidence," using her investigative "subpoena power." She said the cable would be studied inch by inch for signs of whether it rubbed on the black-hulled Patriot.

Ocean-towing tugs connected to giant barges by thick cables that can be more than a quarter-mile long pose lethal risk to small boats such as the 54-foot Patriot — or the Heather Lynn II. A slightly smaller fishing boat, the Heather Lynne II was run down by a towed barge about 10 miles east of Thacher Island in 1996. The three crew members were trapped inside their overturned fishing boat, and died slowly in an incident memorialized in the book "Dead Men Tapping."

Last Saturday, the Coast Guard found the bodies of Russo and Orlando in a debris field about 15 miles southeast of Gloucester, and about a mile from a liquefied natural gas terminal constructed last year. Both men were considered first-rate seamen and fishermen; the boat Russo and his wife Josie co-owned was considered a model for the modern trawler.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Patriot Stories

Pictures of the Week
Your news, your way
AP Video
SKorea Ferry Toll Hits 156, Search Gets Tougher Video Shows Possible Syrian Gas Attack Cubs Superfans Celebrate Wrigley's 100th Raw: Cattle Truck Overturns in Texas Admirers Flock to Dole During Kansas Homecoming Raw: Erupting Volcanoes in Guatemala and Peru Alibaba IPO Could Be Largest Ever for Tech Firm FBI Joining Probe of Suburban NY 'Swatting' Call U.S. Paratroopers in Poland, Amid Ukraine Crisis US Reviews Clemency for Certain Inmates Raw: Violence Erupts in Rio Near Olympic Venue Raw: Deadly Bombing in Egypt Raw: What's Inside a Commercial Jet Wheel Well Raw: Obama Arrives in Japan for State Visit Raw: Anti-Obama Activists Fight Manila Police Motels Near Disney Fighting Homeless Problem Michigan Man Sees Thanks to 'bionic Eye' S.C. Man Apologizes for Naked Walk in Wal-Mart Chief Mate: Crew Told to Escape After Passengers