Two boats collide in the Gulf of Mexico

GULFPORT, MS Capt. Don Rose with the U.S. Coast Guard and state Department of Marine Resources chief of law enforcement Walter Chataginer said six divers were on their way to the scene of the sinking of the fishing vessel Sandy Point to help with search and rescue efforts.

The three missing men were aboard the Sand Point and were among 16 who went overboard when a container ship and the fishing vessel collided Wednesday night near Ship Island.

The 163-foot Sandy Point sank in about 25 feet of murky water after colliding with the 660-foot container vessel, the Eurus London, about eight miles south of Gulfport between Cat and Ship islands shortly before 9 p.m.

A pilot boat safely recovered 11 people from the water and transferred them to the fishing vessel Frosty Morn. Two additional crewmembers of the Sandy Point made it on their own to the Eurus London, the Coast Guard said.

Coast Guard rescue vessels and helicopters from New Orleans, Gulfport and Mobile, Ala., were participating in the search.

The Sandy Point was owned by Omega Protein Inc. and its home port was Most Point, Miss. Omega Protein operates a processing facility in Moss Point and its ships fish for menhaden, also called pogy, in the Gulf.

"We will be able to talk about the plans to put divers down, potentially, if we need to. Maybe salvage the vessel ... get a better idea of how to deal with the sunken fishing vessel, which is now very near the ship channel. We also have a bit of a pollution with a lot of diesel fuel on scene, and a lot of debris and nets that are in the channel," he said.," Rose said at a media briefing at the Coast Guard station in Gulfport.

Officials said Oil Recovery Company, Inc. out of Mobile has been dispatched a vessel to the scene, and will be deploying yellow boom around the scene to contain and collect any oil in the water.

The Eurus London was carrying cargo for Chiquita. A spokesman for the banana company, Andrew Ciafardini, said in a statement, "Our first concern is the three individuals that remain missing and we stand ready to assist the Coast Guard in any way. The Eurus London is a time-chartered vessel owned and operated by third parties. While the Eurus London was carrying cargo for Chiquita, it was not operated by the company. We are fully cooperating with the authorities regarding the investigation. The ship was en route to Freeport, Texas."

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