Families of four dead fisherman share near $1m compensation

The families of the four fishermen who lost their lives when the trawler Emmy Rose (IMO 8854988) disappeared off the Massachusetts coast in November 2020 (IMN November 25th 2020) have received an award for damages totalling nearly $1m. The award will be divided among them.

US District Judge John Woodcock ruled last week that an insurance payment of about $960,000 be allocated to the next of kin, allocating money to provide support for dependent minors and other family members. All families also received a payment for pain and suffering.

Judge Woodcock wrote that “other than the inescapable inference that each man drowned, there is no direct evidence as to how he drowned . . . Thus, there is no basis for the court to find that one man outlived another or that one man died more or less painfully than another.”

The vessel went down in rough weather off the tip of Cape Cod, Massachusetts early on November 23rd 2020, but the reasons remain unknown.

At about 01:00 that morning, the US Coast Guard command centre in Boston received a signal from the Emmy Rose’s EPIRB. The USCG immediately launched an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from the USCG Air Station on Cape Cod. The aircrew were at the scene within an hour. They discovered debris and an empty life raft, but no sign of the vessel’s crew.

A three-day search by air and sea yielded no results.

All four  missing men –Jeff Matthews, Ethan Ward, Michael Porpa, and Captain Robert Blethen – were experienced fishermen.

The USCG and NTSB launched a joint investigation into the vessel’s disappearance, although they will issue separate reports. In May 2021, working with sonar company MIND Technology and other partners, the investigators found the wreck of the Emmy Rose with side-scan sonar. The 82ft vessel was located in an upright position with its outriggers deployed in about 800 feet of water, about 25 miles off the coast of Provincetown, Massachusetts.

In September 2021, investigators partnered with the National Science Foundation and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) to survey the sunken vessel using a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) aboard the Coast Guard cutter Sycamore. The survey yielded new videos and high-resolution photos that will be used to help determine the cause of the sinking.