Nautical News: For the week of October 29, 2017



This past week, while Rhode Island’s Tall Ship Oliver Hazard Perry was leaving the dock in Newport, its two propellers became entangled with a dock line causing a loss of engine power. As a result, the ship struck and damaged four nearby boats. Fortunately there were no injuries, just a lot of shouting and cursing. Thanks to the Newport Harbor Master, a commercial towing company, and the Coast Guard, the ship was safely brought under control and tied to a dock. The following day, tug boats returned the tall ship to its permanent berth at Fort Adams. A diver was hired to free the propellers and both engines were deemed operational. The next time out, the Coast Guard will be on board for required sea trials to ensure the ongoing safety of the ship and crew. All of the future Oliver Hazard Perry’s voyages and plans for festival participation are expected to continue as scheduled.




Antonio Freitas, a former Massachusetts Bristol County deputy sheriff who was convicted in July of helping Carlos Rafael, New Bedford’s “Codfather,” smuggle American dollars into a Portugal bank account, was sentenced to 366 days in prison by U.S. District Court Judge William G. Young in Boston. Freitas had denied the allegations. Before becoming a deputy sheriff, Freitas worked as a task force officer for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. After his prison sentence, he will be on probation for three years. Freitas was one of two men associated with the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office that was linked to the “Codfather” case. In August, Jamie Melo, a Captain with the sheriff’s office, was arrested after the U.S. Attorney’s office claimed he too helped the New Bedford fisherman smuggle money into Portugal. He was charged with one count each of bulk cash smuggling, structuring and conspiracy and is still awaiting trial.




The Coast Guard medevaced a seriously injured fisherman from a boat 25 miles east of Nantucket. One of the crew aboard the 80 foot long fishing boat named Hera out of New Bedford contacted the Coast Guard and reported a fellow crew mate had suffered a serious head laceration and in immediate need of professional medical care. A helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod arrived on scene, hoisted the injured fisherman aboard the helicopter, and flew him to Massachusetts General Hospital for treatment. At last report, his condition was not known.




NOAA said its Five Year Review of the North Atlantic Right Whale population in the U.S. is now complete. The Five-Year Review recommends that North Atlantic right whales continue to be listed as endangered, and confirms that they are experiencing a low rate of reproduction and continued mortality from vessel and fishing gear interactions because of increased transboundary movement. For example twelve dead North Atlantic right whales were found in Canada’s Gulf of St. Lawrence. Recommended actions to help the species recover are said to be based on the latest scientific information, but the information showed only one right whale died in U.S. waters from a ship strike and one or two in five years as result of entanglement in fishing gear. One thing is definite. NOAA officials admitted that they know little about the pre-whaling population of North Atlantic right whales. They think that there were more than 1,000 whales and maybe as many as 20,000, but that is just wishful thinking Today, they say there are about 458 whales, which is up from around 270 in 1990, but half of that population of right whales were observed this summer in Cape Cod.




Twelve of fourteen dolphins that stranded on a Wellfleet beach facing Cape Cod Bay were rescued. It seems to be a common phenomenon for the dolphins to strand on Cape Cod as they migrate south. This year could set a new record for the number of dolphins that get stuck on the arm of Cape Cod. Members of the International Fund for Animal Welfare Marine Mammal Rescue and Research team were involved in the rescue mission. So far 113 whales and dolphins have been rescued.




The Marine Renewable Energy Collaborative said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has approved their installation of a tidal turbine testing facility in the Cape Cod Canal—the first testing site of its kind in the United States. The company plans to install a turbine test platform by the mainland end of the railroad bridge during the month of November. A company spokesperson said the tidal test site is an excellent site because of the tidal flow which can reach 7 knots, and it will have no impact on marine traffic, marine life, or on the local environment

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