Search Called Off for Missing Maersk Boxship Officer
The search for a Maersk container ship officer who went overboard last weekend was unsuccessful and has been called off, according to Maersk Line.
At about 0930 on Sunday morning, the sub-Panamax container ship Maersk Patras reported that the second officer had gone overboard in the Saint Lawrence River, about 100 nm to the northeast of Quebec City. The Marine Search & Rescue Centre (MSRC) of the Canadian Coast Guard immediately lauched a search effort with the help of several vessels, including Maersk Patras, the CCG response vessel Cap de Rabast, the pilot boat Grandes Eaux, and the CCG hovercraft Sipu Muin. Airborne assets also participated in the effort.
The search was not successful, and MSRC called it off on Sunday evening at about 2000 local time.
“It is with regret we have received the news that the search and rescue operation was unsuccessful and we must conclude that we have lost our colleague. It is a tragic situation for the family and we have offered them our full support. My deepest condolences and thoughts go to them,” said Søren Toft, COO of A.P. Moller - Maersk.
According to Sûreté du Québec, the officer went overboard during a pilot change maneuver near the pilot station at Les Escoumins. Canadian media reported that he was not wearing a personal floatation device when he went over the side, and that the water temperature was about 43 degrees Fahrenheit - a dangerously cold level for an unaided swimmer.
The second officer is from Sri Lanka. Maersk is in contact with the relatives as well as the crew members of Maersk Patras, who will receive crisis counseling. Maersk says that it will cooperate fully with the authorities in the investigation of the incident.
The 1998-built Maersk Patras is a 2,900 TEU container ship flagged in Singapore. As of Monday afternoon she was under way once more on the St. Lawrence River near Trois-Rivieres, Quebec. She is expected in Montreal on Monday night, where she will be met by Sûreté du Québec's Major Crimes Investigation Division for interviews with the crew. Canada's Transportation Safety Board (TSB) has also launched an inquiry into the circumstances of the incident.
Maersk Patras was last in the news in November 2016, when she suffered an engine room fire off Las Palmas.