Three more bodies have been recovered from the inside of the capsized MV Fair Chance, leaving one person unaccounted for, the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard said in a release issued today.
The Coast Guard has been conducting rescue and salvage operations since April 2, when the Vincentian registered cargo vessel capsized in waters off the North Coast of Trinidad.
According to today’s release, the long process of re-floating the vessel was completed yesterday, April 17.
Today, April 18, the Coast Guard and members of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Force entered the Fair Chance to begin the process of clearing debris and discovered the remains of three persons.
There were seven crew on board when the incident occurred, two survived and were taken up by a passing vessel, which left five crew unaccounted for. The surviving members have been identified as Derrol Small of Union Island and Johnel McIntosh of Carriacou. The Coast Guard recovered one body through dive efforts on April 7 and this is said to be a resident of Union Island by the name of Owen Baptiste.
At the time of writing on April 18, one crew member still has to be accounted for.
The Coast Guard release has also detailed more information about the process that they took to attempt to aid the occupants of the vessel in the wake of the incident.
They explained that after April 2 they attempted to take the MV Fair Chance in tow but “due to its size and tonnage all attempts were unsuccessful.” The Coast Guard remained beside the vessel despite it drifting into waters off Venezuela “in the hope that other survivors could be found,” they say.
A commercial tug joined with the efforts of the Coast Guard on April 3, allowing for the vessel to be towed to the Chaguaramas area by April 5.
“Attempts were made that day to make the site safe for diving operations to commence, however, that night, the Fair Chance sank to the seabed,” the Coast Guard said.
Following this there were urgent attempts to send divers in but the attempts were unsuccessful by reason of the hatches and doorways being blocked by debris and “large amounts of cargo”.
Joining the operation, they note, were commercial divers hired by the agent of the Fair Chance but “the debris proved too much for them as well.”
The extraction of debris “piece by piece” was the next move, that resulted in the discovery of the first body.
“In the ensuing days a commercial salvage company was hired to assist with cutting a hole in the deck of the Fair Chance so that access could be gained. The hole was cut but divers from neither the Coast Guard nor the commercial company could force their way in through the cargo and debris that blocked access to the accommodation areas of the vessel,” the Coast Guard stated.
After this the conclusion was taken that the only way to get through the blockage was to raise the Fair Chance, and therein began the lengthy process that concluded on Sunday and resulted in more bodies being found today, April 18.
The Fair Chance left a port in Trinidad on the afternoon of Saturday April 2 and was carrying cargo for Grenada and St Vincent when it encountered trouble and was tipped over. The family members were left to wait while carrying the hope that the remaining crew may still be alive inside of the overturned Fair Chance.