Coast Guard is investigating the capsizing of the commercial fishing vessel Mary B II, which led to
the death of three fishermen at the entrance of Yaquina Bay in Newport, Oregon.
At about 2200 hours
Tuesday night, the Mary B was
preparing to cross the Yaquina Bay bar, the notoriously hazardous entrance to
Newport’s harbor. The surface conditions were rough, with waves of 14-16 feet
and occasional waves of up to 20 feet near the bar.
The 42-foot Mary B II called
the Coast Guard before making an attempt to cross, and she requested an escort
from a USCG boat crew. A 52-foot motor lifeboat, the Victory, went out to meet the Mary B and stood
by. However, as the Mary B approached
the channel entrance, a wave struck her and pushed her north of the jetty into
an area of rocky shoals.
complete darkness and breaking waves . . . it was unsafe for us to attempt to
get our boats inside a rocky known hazardous area without jeopardizing the
safety of our crew,” said Executive Petty Officer Jason McCommons,
speaking to local TV news.
At 2208 hours, with
the Victory nearby,
the Mary B
II capsized, throwing two crewmembers over the side. The Victory’s crew
immediately began searching for the fishermen, and they called for support. A
second launch and an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter out of Coast Guard Air Facility
Newport joined them on scene.
The Newport Fire Department assisted with a
shoreside search, and they soon found debris from the Mary B washing up
on the beach.
2330 hours, the helicopter aircrew found the body of the first crewmember. He
was unresposive and was transferred to a hospital.
second fisherman washed ashore, where he was found by the shoreside search
teams. He too was unresponsive, and was also transferred to a hospital by
emergency medical services.
crewmember’s body was spotted inside the hull of the Mary B, which washed up on the
beach about 100 yards from the channel’s North Jetty.
His remains were
recovered the following morning by the Newport Fire Department.
deceased have been identified as Oregon resident Joshua Porter, 50, and New
Jersey residents Stephen Biernacki, 50, and James Lacy, 48. Biernacki served as
the vessel’s skipper on the accident voyage.
Newport Fishermen’s Wives, a local support organization, is accepting donations
for the families of the deceased.
“We are currently reaching out to the
families to find out more of what their needs are. We will provide them with
emergency funds, and we also open an account and accept donations so that
people know they are sending their donations to a safe place,” said the
group’s president, Taunette Dixon, speaking to The Oregonian.