Four Rhode Island lobstermen were rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard after their boat, the Sakonnet Lobster, sank off of Block Island early Thursday morning.
The Sakonnet Lobster's sister ship, the Edna May, is now docked along the Sakonnet River in Tiverton, next to the lobster traps that remain. Although the boat never returned, fortunately its four crew members did.
"We gave them the call to abandon ship, the ship was going down, and so they got in the water, and by 7 o'clock they were up in the helicopter," said U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Karen Kutkiewicz.
Disaster struck the 60 footer about 40 miles off the coast of Block Island at 4 a.m. Thursday. With 6 foot seas and 30 knot winds, the boat was taking on water in one of its holds and could not be saved.
A Coast Guard helicopter responded from Cape Cod, and rescuers plucked the captain, first mate and two deck hands out of the ocean after about 20 minutes in the water.
"These fishermen were very well prepared. They had their survival suits, they put them on, they abandoned ship," Coast Guard Lt. Karen Kutkiewicz said.
The boat then sank 250 feet to the bottom of the ocean, with three days of catch inside.
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A family member of the boat's owner says all four men are doing okay.
Down at the Sakonnet Lobster fresh market and processing plant in Little Compton, workers declined to comment, only saying it had been a rough day for all involved.
Even with so much lost, Lt. Kutkiewicz said what's important is what remains.
"They made the call, they were prepared, and they were calm, and they had all their gear correctly. They had their radio, they had their survival suits, they had their life raft. So on the day they needed to use it, they used all their survival equipment well and the Coast Guard picked them up and saved their lives," she added.
Although the lobstermen are safe and okay, the bad news is they sell live lobster at $6.99 a pound and the boat was on its way back after three days, which means untold thousands of dollars, plus the boat, is now gone.
A Coast Guard salvage team will try to see about the possibility of recovering the boat.