Families of 4 Fishermen Who Died When Boat Mysteriously Sank Awarded Nearly $1M

A federal judge awarded nearly $1 million in damages to the families of four fishermen who died when their boat, the Emmy Rose, sank off Massachusetts in November 2020.

U.S. District Judge John Woodcock awarded a total of $960,000 in insurance proceeds from the boat owner, Boat Aaron & Melissa Inc., to be distributed among the families.

Upon accepting the money, the families agreed to release the owner from further liability and the judge exonerated the owner.

Woodcock wrote that the crew died "an unspeakably tragic and terrible death."

"Again, there is no evidence about how the vessel went down, and it is possible that it sank suddenly and without warning," Woodcock wrote. "But it is more likely that there was some period of panic as the seamen worked in horrific conditions to avoid its and their awful demise."

According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the 82-foot Portland, Maine-based ship was heading to port after a seven-day fishing trip when it mysteriously sank. Authorities previously stated the boat was heading to Gloucester, Massachusetts.

The Coast Guard searched more than 2,200 square miles over a 38-hour period, and only found a debris field, diesel fuel odor, an emergency beacon and an empty life raft. However, the vessel made no distress calls.

NTSB said the Emmy Rose was found in May on the seafloor about 25 miles off the coast of Provincetown, Massachusetts. However, the crew — Capt. Robert Blethen Jr., of Georgetown, Maine; Jeffrey Matthews, of Portland, Maine; Ethan Ward, of Pownal, Maine; and Michael Porper, of Gloucester, Massachusetts — haven't been found.

Loved ones describe the missing crew as hardworking men who felt a strong connection with the water and loved their families.

Emmy Rose Sunken Ship
The United States Coast Guard searched for the mysteriously sunken ship and it's crew. The US Legend-class national security Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton is seen in the port of Odessa on the Black Sea after conducting joint exercises according to NATO standards with the Ukrainian Navy ship Starobelsk on May 11, 2021 in Odessa, Ukraine. As part of the efforts to bolster NATO maritime partnerships, the US Coast Guard conducted maritime law enforcement, search and rescue, and ship handling operations with Ukrainian navy vessels. Pierre Crom/Getty Images

In September, federal authorities partnered with the National Science Foundation and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution to survey the sunken vessel using a remotely operated vehicle. The vehicle yielded videos and high-resolution photos used by investigators trying to determine what caused the ship to go down.

In a statement provided by her attorney, Ashley Gross, Porper's fiancee, said she felt the judge did a fair job dividing the limited insurance between the four families.

"There is no amount of money that will bring my friends and fiance back," she said Thursday. "The judgment doesn't bring us closure but does bring some peace of mind that Michael was able to contribute to his daughters' future."

An email was left Friday for the attorney who represented the owner of the Emmy Rose.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.