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Scuba diver dies in accident at Old Port Cove Marina

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A scuba diver was killed by a yacht propeller Tuesday morning at Old Port Cove Marina in North Palm Beach, Fla. The diver, identified Luis Alberto Gorgonio-Ixba of West Palm Beach, was in the water cleaning the bottom of M/Y Honey, a 164-foot Westport, when a forward bow thruster was turned on.

Witnesses said the diver was pulled in face-first when the propellers were engaged and was pronounced dead at the scene, according to local news station WPBF.

The incident is under investigation by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. An FWC spokesperson said it is unclear whether the diver worked for the yacht owner or was a contractor.

“It is a tragedy,” said Sue Morgan, marketing director at Old Port Cove. “We offer our sincere condolences to the family of the diver, the crew and everyone involved.”

Click here for the WPBF report

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Dorie Cox is editor of The Triton.

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10 thoughts on “Scuba diver dies in accident at Old Port Cove Marina

  1. USCG Veteran

    The only people who operate the thrusters are the captain, first mate or engineer. On a vessel this large, thrusters are hydraulic with PTO typically off of one or both generators. With a diver under the boat, the circuit breaker for the thrusters should have been turned off along with the main engines and should have been red tagged DO NOT START/ENERGIZE. This should be in vessel’s S.O.P. This death should have never happened if the officer in charge followed proper safety protocols.

  2. Sandy Hartman

    This is a TOTALLY Preventable death…Charges should be filed for this death.

  3. Jeffrey Crawford

    This is a tragedy. As a yachtie for 25 years on superyachts, this is what happens when you put lake sailors in charge of something. Seems no communication with officers on deck.

  4. Anonymous

    It’s hard to read these ignorant comments below and on facebook. Nobody knows the full story. What if the diver never checked in with the crew prior to entering the water? Instead of pointing fingers, how about we all say a prayer for the parties involved, especially the diver’s family and the crew.

  5. Victor Rivera

    This is seen way too much. As a 24-year commercial diver and diving supervisor, this is exactly why we say all underwater maintenance should only be handled by certified commercial divers.
    Hull cleaners usually work alone, and this is the most unsafe of practices. Does not matter if it’s a 12-foot boat or a 200-foot boat, 2 is better than 1 and 3 is the law. Meaning that with a vessel of this size, there should have been a 3-man dive team minimum on this job.
    This is sad yet not surprising. Until all ports get on the same page as the oil and gas and military, this will continue to happen.

    ALL UNDERWATER MAINTENANCE WORK SHOULD ONLY BE HANDLED BY ADC, IMCA, BCDC DIVING STANDARDS. AND LAWS NEED TO BE IMPLEMENTED TO ENSURE THAT SAFETY AND LIFE COMES BEFORE LOW COST TO CONSUMERS.

  6. Geno Gargiulo

    Condolences go out to the friends and family of the diver. The saddest and most tragic part is, other than the obvious loss of life, is that it could possibly have been avoided if proper protocols were observed, namely; “Lock Out/Tag Out” form properly executed. The form singles out the thrusters and several other hazards.
    If anyone wants a free template of this form, please, do not hesitate to email me, directly, and I will provide one for you…regardless if you are a competitor or not.
    Best Regards,
    Geno Gargiulo, President, Commercial Diver Services of Florida, LLC.

  7. Michael Jones

    It’s odd Westport didn’t install a cage around the thruster tunnel as most vessels have, sad unfortunate accident.

  8. Randall Cole

    While I respectfully disagree with Mr. Rivera’s call for only licensed commercial diver’s being allowed to perform hull maintenance, I agree with Mr. Gargiulo that proper protocols need to be followed whenever shipboard personell or outside contractors are working in any are of the vessel where activating ANY machinery could cause bodily injury or damage to the vessel. “Lock Out/ TagOut” proceedures are a standard in any vessels’s Safety Management System and all crew members need to be aware of what LO/ TO protocol entails. Anytime an outside contractor is performing their service aboard a vessel, it is the master’s responsibility to ensure their safety by providing job related supervision and oversight.

  9. Mike

    I am a commercial hull cleaning underwater boat maintenance diver in the gulf coast of Florida, father of 2 children and it hits close to home. Most of the time I dive alone, but always try to contact someone to let them know I will be working under their boat whether if it’s a house call or marina. It’s a divers nightmare, being sucked head first into a bowthruster. Also, yes, the safety protocol is there for a reason, this incident could have been avoided by calling clients ahead of cleaning, knocking on the door house/bridge, or having gear on the dock like tanks or compressor with a flag on a pole. My heart and prayers for the family. A sad thing to hear of a diver to go down never to come back up.

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