NTSB uses video, high-res photos in probe of sunken boat

The dragger Emmy Rose, seen in Gloucester Harbor early in 2020, sank Nov. 23, with four crewmen aboard. One of the fishermen was Michael Porper Jr. of Gloucester.

Investigators trying to learn why a commercial fishing boat sank off Massachusetts nearly a year ago, taking the lives of a Gloucester man and three fellow crew members, are using some high-tech gadgetry in their probe, federal authorities said Wednesday.

The 82-foot Portland, Maine-based Emmy Rose went down early Nov. 23 as it was heading to port after a seven-day fishing trip, the National Transportation Safety Board said in a statement. The Emmy Rose’s fishermen had harvested groundfish such as haddock and were scheduled to land the catch at Fisherman’s Wharf in Gloucester. Among the crew was Michael Porper Jr., 38, of Gloucester and Peaks Island, Maine.

The steel-hulled Emmy Rose was located in May, in an upright position with its outriggers deployed, in about 800 feet of water on the seafloor about 25 miles off Provincetown, Massachusetts. The vessel was found by searchers from Salem, New Hampshire-based Klein Marine Systems, working with the U.S. Coast Guard and the NTSB, who said they used advanced sonar technology to locate the wreck.

To aid in the investigation, federal authorities partnered with the National Science Foundation and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in September to survey the sunken vessel using a remotely operated vehicle.

The vehicle yielded videos and high-resolution photos that are being used by investigators trying to determine why the vessel went down. It remains under investigation.

The vessel made no distress calls. The Coast Guard searched more than 2,200 square miles over a 38-hour period, yet found nothing more than a debris field, diesel fuel odor, an emergency beacon and an empty life raft.

Porper and the Emmy Rose’s other crew — Capt. Robert Blethen Jr., of Georgetown, Maine; Jeffrey Matthews, of Portland, Maine; Ethan Ward, of Pownal, Maine— were never found.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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