GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Patriot Stories

May 22, 2009

Plans in the works to raise the Patriot

The fishing vessel Patriot will be raised and examined for evidence of what caused it to sink during a winter fishing trip that took the lives of its two-man crew, the attorney for the estate of the owners said yesterday.

Joseph Abromovitz, attorney for Josie Russo — whose husband Matteo Russo, 39, and father John Orlando, 59, were killed in the Jan. 3 incident — said the Coast Guard was working with the salvage company on an engineering plan to raise the Patriot.

"Josie wants to raise the boat," said Abromovitz. "Suffice it to say she is the moving force,"

Abromovitz reiterated his belief that, even without unimpeded access to the boat, the estate — Josie Russo and her two sons, Salvatore Russo, 3, and an infant, John Matteo Russo, who was born this week — would be able to prove that a tug towing a barge brought down the Patriot.

In March, Abromovitz began the process of suing the Louisiana-based owner of the tug Gulf Service, the publicly traded Hornbeck Offshore Services.

Within days of the sinking, the Coast Guard announced that a tug and barge were believed to be the only other vessels in the vicinity of the Patriot, whose last signal via the VMS or vessel monitoring system put it about 15 miles from port in Middle Bank.

The Coast Guard interviewed the crews on the tug and barge and examined the cable, but has not made public its findings in the investigation into the cause of the sinking, nor has the service announced the results of its internal study into the delayed response to the request for search and rescue.

It was more than two hours after Josie Russo's frantic call to Coast Guard Station Gloucester before the Guard launched a full-scale search-and-rescue effort.

On March 19, in reaction to Abromovitz's notice, Hornbeck began its defense by filing a "complaint for exoneration from liability," an action in U.S. District Court in New Orleans that seeks a trial to determine that the Gulf Service and the barge cannot be tied to the sinking.

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