The opening day of shrimping season got off to a rocky start for one South Carolina vessel. The 35-foot commercial shrimping vessel Miss. Kim capsized near Morris Island, S.C., on Thursday morning with three people onboard. Fortunately all three were res-cued, but the vessel has been deemed a total loss.
“The nets were loaded by his first drag and the day looked promising,” says Captain Lockwood McCants Freeman. “Then the outrigger popped up, and the weight of it capsized the boat. We are grateful to be alive.”
According U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Michael Marcenelle, the Charleston Police Metro Marine Unit confirmed the three crew members have been rescued and that no injuries have been reported. Two good Samaritans also responded.
“Sad news about the loss of a Shem Creek shrimp boat today,” said Mount Pleasant Mayor Will Haynie via Twitter shortly after hearing the news. “I’ve reached out to the captain to let him know we will rally together and help in any way we can. A fundraiser is in the works. We will always save our local fleet.”
Shem Creek Fisheries, a nonprofit organization supporting local fishermen, is calling on the community to support the shrimpers and as of Tuesday afternoon, more than $11,000 has been raised in support through GoFundMe.
“Shem Creek lost another shrimp boat and it looks like it will be a total loss for captain/owner,” posted Mount Pleasant-based Geechie Seafood. “Lockwood Freeman bought his boat last year and has worked tirelessly to get her ready for opening day. She turned over while he was shrimping yesterday, and he was lucky to be able to get out of the cabin unharmed through a back window.”
Locals also responded in support of the industry and shrimp fleet.
“Time for the True Mount Pleasantonians to rise up and support those few remaining shrimpers willing to take the risk to bring us those shrimp and keeping our heritage alive,” posted Mount Pleasant resident Bill Cox, who quickly donated to the cause. “I cannot imagine going over the Shem Creek Bridge and not see a shrimp boat.”
Freeman is taking a positive stance following the loss of the Miss. Kim.
“I just want to thank each and every one of you who has reached out to me. What started out as a great start this morning shrimping ended very quickly when my outrigger popped up and the weight of it capsized the boat. I’m grateful to be alive and especially the two young guns I had on board with me are okay. A boat can be replaced a life can’t,” said Freeman. “I may be knocked down and out for now, but I’ll be back in no time.”
The Miss. Kim has approximately 120 gallons of fuel product with“the potential to discharge,” according to a Coast Guard public statement. The agency is working with the owner of the vessel on plans to salvage the boat, and to ensure the threat of pollution is mitigated.