GLOUCESTER, Mass. (AP) – The Coast Guard didn’t send help to a fishing boat that sank off Gloucester for more than two hours after it learned of possible trouble, the Gloucester Daily Times reported Thursday.

The trawler Patriot sank about 15 miles southeast of Gloucester for unknown reasons Saturday, killing Capt. Matteo Russo, and his father-in-law, John Orlando.

The Gloucester Daily Times reported that at about 1:40 a.m., shortly after a fire alarm was reported on board, the local fire department determined the boat wasn’t in port.

Around the same time, Russo’s pregnant wife told the Coast Guard that she could no longer reach her husband by cell phone.

The Coast Guard didn’t send out rescue crews until 3:52 a.m.

The bodies of both men were found shortly before dawn Saturday

.

According to a chronology the Coast Guard provided to the Times, a fire signal to a private alarm company at 1:17 a.m. was relayed to Gloucester Fire Department. Twenty minutes later, firefighters reported that the Patriot was not in port. At about that time, Josephine Russo called the Coast Guard station in Gloucester to say that cell phone calls to her husband on the Patriot were going to voice mail.

The Boston Coast Guard command directed its Gloucester station to double-check the fire department’s conclusion that the Patriot was not in port – an assignment that took an hour.

According to Capt. Craig Gilbert, the Coast Guard district’s top search and rescue officer, the search was delayed again while officials tried to get a rough idea of the boat’s location. At 2:30 a.m., Nathan Knapp, the Coast Guard’s regional search and rescue chief, requested a tap into a National Marine Fisheries Service system that tracks boat by radio, to find out where the Patriot was or had been most recently.

Eight minutes later, they learned where the boat had last been tracked.

But Gilbert said the search was delayed again as the officials again tried to contact the Patriot. It also made calls to determine the strength of the radio signal from the fire alarm system on the Patriot to find out if it could have been sent from offshore.

At about 3:52 a.m., the Coast Guard sent a 47-foot motor life boat and an 87-foot coastal patrol boat to the scene.



Information from: Gloucester Daily Times, http://www.gloucestertimes.com/

AP-ES-01-08-09 1510EST


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