One dead in tugboat sinking

MARCH 16, 2015 — The captain of the 65 ft tugboat Sea Bear, operated by Seawolf Marine Transportation, Bayonne, NJ, lost his life Saturday when the vessel sank off Fire Island, NY. The U.S. Coast Guard rescued three survivors.

Local media report Suffolk County police as saying that Donald Maloney, the on-duty captain, was unable to put on his survival suit. His surviving crewmates - Lars Vetland, Jason Reimer and Rainer Bendixen - were able to get into their suits. The water temperature was reportedly 37 F.

The New York Times quotes a Coast Guard spokeswoman as saying the boat was returning to its home port in New York after doing some work near Shinnecock Bay in Suffolk County on the eastern tip of Long Island. A crew member radioed for help at 2:15 p.m. and said that the boat was taking on water and sinking.

WABC Channel 7 reports that as soon as the Coast Guard got the call, boats were despatched from station Fire Island and station Shinnecock.

"As Coast Guard rescuers approached, the tugboat's emergency transmission died. The vessel sank one mile off the coast of Fire Island Pines," reported Channel 7. Despite a thick blanket of fog, a Coast Guard boat from Fire Island reached the location in about 45 minutes and found the three survivors wearing emergency immersion suits. They were huddled together in the water.

Mr. Maloney was found by the crew of a civilian tugboat that volunteered to help in the search as "good Samaritans," the New York Times reports.

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