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March 29, 2004

Bow Mariner salvage ends

The operation to locate and recover the missing crew from the Bow Mariner and remove fuel oil ended Friday with the approval of the U.S. Coast Guard.

The salvage effort was called off after a comprehensive search using a sophisticated ROV (remotely operated vehicle), an analysis of high-resolution video images and evaluating extensive soundings of the sunken vessel's fuel tanks.

"We are saddened because we did not locate any of the 18 missing seamen," said a joint statement by Ceres and Odfjell, respectively the managers and owners of the Bow Mariner. "The Mystic Viking and its crew spent more than 60 hours directing the ROV to areas in and around the ship.

Salvage experts retained by Ceres and Odfjell presented the results of their findings to Coast Guard officers at Norfolk's Marine Safety Office Friday.

"We have monitored recovery and clean up efforts closely through out this whole ordeal," said Captain Robert R. O'Brien, Jr., head of the Hampton Roads Coast Guard Marine Safety Office. "We had hoped to come away from this operation with some closure for the families, but they should be assured we did everything in our power to find their loved ones."

"Due to extensive damage to the ships storage tanks, we believe that no recoverable product is left onboard the Bow Mariner," Captain O'Brien said.

The Bow Mariner sank in the Atlantic Ocean 50 miles off the Virginia coast in 264 feet of water on February 28. Six crew members were rescued by the Coast Guard. Three seamen died and 18 are missing.

"We would like to thank the Coast Guard for their rapid response to the accident and the rescue of six seamen," the joint statement from Ceres and Odfjell said. "The human cost of the casualty would have been much greater had it not been for the prompt response and courage of the Coast Guard."

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