Removing sunken boats from New Bedford harbor could take days

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) — Officials say it could take days to remove the two fishing boats that sank in New Bedford Harbor Monday.

Crews worked through a brief period of snow Tuesday morning on the containment boom surrounding the two sunken ships, which are owned by disgraced fishing magnate Carlos Rafael, also known as the “Codfather.”

Rafael pleaded guilty to smuggling money to Portugal and evading fishing quotas. In September, he was sentenced to nearly four years in prison.

The 65-foot Dinah Jane and 67-foot Nemesis have been mostly underwater since Monday morning.

Samuel Shomaker has been a fisherman in the area for 25 years and he said he’s seen ships sink at the dock before, but never like this.

“I know the guys that worked on it, so I guess they won’t be going out on them boats anymore,” Shomaker said. “That’s the first time I’ve seen two go down at the same time.”

New Bedford Fire Department Chief Michael Gomes said it is going to be a process to remove the boats from the water.

“It’ll be a process in order to lift the vessels up until such time as they can get the main deck just above water level then they’ll de-water the vessel and continue to lift it as they de-water and that’ll give the Coast Guard an opportunity to go on board and identify what the cause of the sinking was,” Gomes said.

Onlookers from other boats said a sheen was still visible in the area around the vessels. Combined, the two vessels can carry up to 9,500 gallons of fuel.

An environmental company is working on cleaning up the fuel from the sunken boats.

The Coast Guard is in charge of the investigation into why the boats sank. Eyewitness News reached out to Carlos Seafood Inc. for comment but have not heard back.