The National Transportation Safety Board reports that on June 9, 2021, at 0800, the crew of the Sage Catherine Lane left the anchorage in Cumberland Sound and began transiting outbound on the St. Marys River to engage in shrimping offshore.
About 0900, the captain maneuvered the vessel outside of the navigation channel and continued on an easterly course between the red buoys and the northern jetty, due to high traffic within the channel. As the vessel transited parallel to the channel outbound, crewmember 1 went to the bow to secure the anchor, and crewmember 2 went to his room.
The captain, who was alone in the wheelhouse, set the vessel’s autopilot to maintain the vessel’s heading out of the inlet to open water as the vessel started passing the jetty. The vessel was transiting at a speed of 9 knots. He answered a cell phone call and then proceeded down to his bunk room. About 0915, while the captain was still on the cell phone and in his room, he felt the vessel turn abruptly to port. The captain returned to the wheelhouse to investigate, and as he arrived, he saw that the vessel was heading toward the northern jetty. The captain attempted to turn away from the jetty, and he put the vessel’s engine in reverse, but the Sage Catherine Lane struck the jetty and grounded before his actions could sufficiently stop or turn the vessel.
After the vessel grounded, crewmember 1 checked the engine room and other below-deck spaces and did not find any flooding. The captain tried to back the vessel off the jetty. At first, the vessel started to move astern, but then it began to rock back and forth before heeling to starboard. The captain stopped the engine; the two crewmembers checked the engine room again and found that it was starting to flood. The captain and crew donned life jackets and abandoned the vessel, and the crew of a Good Samaritan vessel, who witnessed the incident, rescued them from the water. Crewmember 2 sustained a minor laceration to his right hand while abandoning the vessel but did not seek additional medical care. The vessel remained on the jetty for 2 days, and then it broke apart and sank following a thunderstorm on the third day.