The Coast Guard is investigating the capsizing of the commercial fishing vessel Mary B II, which lead to the deaths of three fishermen at the entrance of Yaquina Bay in Newport, Oregon, Tuesday night. The three fishermen were inbound the Yaquina Bay Bar aboard the 42-foot vessel Mary B II when it capsized without warning tossing two of the fishermen overboard into the stormy Pacific Ocean with reported waves of 14 to 16 feet with occasional waves of 20 feet.
Prior to the Mary B II capsizing its crew requested a Coast Guard escort across the Yaquina Bay Bar. A Station Yaquina Bay boat crew aboard the 52-foot Motor Life Boat Victory went out to meet the Mary B II. At 10:08 p.m., the vessel capsized while under its own power with the Victory’s crew near by. The Victory’s crew immediately began searching for the fishermen, and called for more support leading to another boat crew launching aboard a 47-foot MLB and an aircrew aboard an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Air Facility Newport arriving on scene.
The Newport Fire Department was also notified and they sent responders to North Beach to conduct shore side searches. The responders reported debris washing up on the beach. The Coast Guard aircrew located the hull of the vessel near the North Jetty and approximately 100 yards offshore. The first fisherman James Lacey was recovered at 11:30 p.m., by the aircrew. He was unresponsive and was transported to shore where he was delivered to emergency medical services.
A second fisherman Joshua Porter washed ashore and was found unresponsive by the shore side searchers. He too was treated by EMS. Both of these fishermen were transported to Samaritan Pacific Communities Hospital where they were later pronounced deceased. The third fisherman Captain Stephen Biernacki was spotted within the hull of the vessel, however, weather conditions prevented the safe retrieval by rescuers. Responders from the Newport Fire Department extracted the last fisherman from the cabin of the Mary B II Wednesday morning.
An Air Facility Newport aircrew conducted an overflight and reported no visible pollution, but lots of debris scattered around. Oregon State Park Rangers are in charge of gathering the debris from the fishing vessel. The Mary B II had been crabbing for three days before attempting to return to port with their reported catch. The crew did not send out a Mayday call, but had requested a Coast Guard escort which was provided.
Information provided by USCG