DMR sends dive boat to search for missing men

The Department of Marine Resources' dive boat, "Mississippi"
The Department of Marine Resources' dive boat, "Mississippi"
DMR Enforcement Chief Walter Chataginer
DMR Enforcement Chief Walter Chataginer

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Coast Guard Commander Don Rose said Thursday morning that a 25 square mile safety zone has been set up around the search area where an outbound cargo ship collided with a pogey fishing boat Wednesday night.

The Sandy Point fishing boat sank after it was struck broadside by the ship.

Commander Rose said the ship channel is about 35 feet deep in the area where the accident happened. He said the fishing boat is submerged on the edge of the channel in about 25 feet of water.

The captains of both the fishing boat and cargo ship have both been interviewed about the accident. Commander Rose said that information, along with data from the bridge recorder, will help investigators determine what happened.

Rose said no foul play is suspected, but every angle is being investigated.

Rose said the 13 men who were rescued suffered some bumps and bruises, but are in overall good condition given what they've been through.

Rose said some debris from the accident has washed ashore on Cat Island. He said search and rescue teams are working in a "fairly concentrated search area."

The Department of Marine Resources is sending its dive boat out to the wreckage site. The 48 foot "Mississippi" will transport a dive team of DMR divers and a Biloxi Police diver.

DMR Enforcement Chief Walter Chataginer said diving the wreckage is a lot like cave diving. He said the process is like feeling your way around the inside of a dark refrigerator, trying to determine what you've got.

Chataginer told WLOX News that in his 23 years, he can't recall any other accidents between a cargo ship and a fishing boat.

Coast Guard Commander Don Rose said the area where the collision occurred often sees a good deal of boat traffic involving fishing vessels and ships coming to and from the Port of Gulfport. He said the pilots that guide those cargo ships are among the best at what they do.

Copyright 2011 WLOX. All rights reserved.