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USCG suspends search for two missing in deadly dredge fire and explosion

Written by Nick Blenkey
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Coast Guard crews respond to a dredge on fire in the Port of Corpus Christi Ship Channel, Aug. 21, 2020 [U.S. Coast Guard photo]

The Coast Guard suspended its search Saturday for two missing crewmembers from the dredging vessel Waymon L Boyd which caught fire in an incident first reported to officials at the Port of Corpus Christi, Texas, at around 8 a.m. Friday.

The Coast Guard suspended its search after previously recovering the bodies of two crewmembers at approximately 2 a.m. and 10:45 a.m Earlier, two crew members had been rescued by a Coast Guard helicopter.

The dredge caught fire after hitting a submerged pipeline causing an explosion. The cause of the accident is under investigation.

The fire onboard the vessel was first extinguished Friday afternoon, but sparked again and was finally put out at approximately 10 p.m. Friday, shortly before the vessel broke apart and sank, the Coast Guard said.

The dredge is operated by Orion Marine Group, which describes it in its fleet listing as a 20 inch hydraulic diesel or electric dredge.

“We greatly appreciate the efforts of the U.S. Coast Guard and other responders in their efforts to recover our missing crewmen,” said Mark Stauffer, CEO, Orion Marine Group. “Our focus is on supporting our employees and their families during this difficult time and our thoughts and prayers are with them and all the first responders. We continue to work alongside the U.S. Coast Guard, the Port of Corpus Christi Authority, TCEQ, and the other agencies to assist in the recovery of our personnel and the wider investigation into this incident.”

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the impacted crewmen and their families,” said Sean Strawbridge, CEO, Port of Corpus Christi. “A full investigation is underway; however, search and rescue efforts are our first priority. It will not be clear for some time the cause of this accident, and any definitive statements to the contrary would be premature. We will continue to provide updates as the situation progresses.”

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