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Nov-08-2007 13:46printcomments

Coast Guard Investigation in September 2006 Freighter Collision Released

Details are announced in the incident involving the Freighter Barkald and sailing vessel Essence in Long Island Sound in September 2006.

Ms. Gina Bortolotti drowned after a vessel she was a crew member aboard, was struck and sank by the 623-foot coal carrier Barkald, also shown in the photo.
Ms. Gina Bortolotti drowned after a vessel she was a crew member aboard, was struck and sank by the 623-foot coal carrier Barkald, also pictured.

(NEW YORK) - The U.S. Coast Guard is announced the conclusion of its investigation into the cause of an early morning collision between the motor vessel Barkald and the sailing vessel Essence in Long Island Sound September 20th 2006, that left a crewmember onboard the Essence dead.

Ms. Gina Bortolotti, a cook onboard the Essence, drowned in the aftermath of the collision. The investigation found that the primary cause of the collision was the failure of the mate of the Essence to properly identify the aspect of the lights of the Barkald and to take proper action to avoid a collision as required by the Inland Navigation Rules.

Contributing factors cited in the Coast Guard investigation include the failure of both vessels to adequately determine that a risk of collision existed as well as inadequate communications between both vessels as they approached each other in a meeting situation.

The investigation ruled out mechanical failure and weather as possible factors in the collision. Further, the investigation determined that each vessel's navigation lights and navigation equipment were working properly and alcohol and drug tests conducted on both crews were negative.

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"First and foremost this was a tragic accident, and we again express our deepest heartfelt condolences to Ms. Gina Bortolotti's family, friends and shipmates everywhere," said Capt. Daniel Ronan, Commander of Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound and Captain of the Port.

"As tragic as this accident was, it does reinforce the need for all of us to remain ever attentive to the rules of navigation and ever vigilant to the inherent dangers of the sea to ensure safety for ourselves and other mariners."

Bortolotti was awake when the collision
occurred and was swimming to the tender
when she disappeared under the water.
Her body was recovered soon after by a
Coast Guard rescue vessel, but she had
drowned. Courtesy: the-triton.com

The 623-foot coal carrier Barkald was transiting in Long Island Sound outbound to Halifax, Nova Scotia, from Bridgeport, Conn., and the 92-foot sailing vessel Essence, with three persons onboard, was transiting inbound to Greenwich, Conn., from Newport R.I., when the vessels collided in New York state waters about 12 miles southeast of New Haven Harbor, Conn., shortly after 4:00 AM.

Following the collision, the Essence sank, leaving the three crewmembers in the water.

The pilot aboard the Barkald immediately notified the Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound Command Center in New Haven. Upon receiving the report, the Coast Guard launched a 25-foot rescue boat from Station New Haven.

The Coast Guard rescue boat crew pulled the Essence mate and cook from the water and transferred them to EMS personnel waiting on shore. The two were then rushed to Yale New Haven Hospital where Ms. Gina Bortolotti was pronounced dead. The mate, Mr. Nardus Bothma, was treated for hypothermia and released.

Following the collision, the Barkald launched one of the ship's lifeboats and was able to recover the Essence master, Mr. Ian Robberts.

Source: U.S. Coast Guard

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