Belmar Charter Boat Heads Home After Wreck Dive Tragedy

Steven Slater, 46, of Gateshead, England, died while exploring the wreckage of the Andrea Doria off Nantucket., Mass., during a diving excursion on the Ol’ Salty II charter boat, based in Belmar. Credits: Eurotek Advanced Diving Conference
Ol’ Salty II, a 62-foot charter boat whose home port is Belmar, is heading home after a British diver died while on an excursion to explore the wreckage of the Andrea Doria. Credits: Ol' Salty II Sport Fishing and Scuba Diving Charters

EAST HAMPTON, NY — The Ol’ Salty II charter boat, whose home port is Belmar, is on its way back from the Andrea Doria shipwreck after a British diver died while on the diving excursion.

Steven Slater, 46, of Gateshead, England, was among a group of divers exploring the wreckage off the coast of Nantucket, Mass., on July 24 when he was pulled unconscious from the waters by crew members, according to a statement by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Crew members administered CPR for two hours on Slater, an experienced wreck and technical diver, before a Coast Guard helicopter arrived at the 62-foot boat’s location about 45 miles off Nantucket. However, because CPR was administered for such an extended period of time, Slater’s body could not be lifted into the helicopter and remained in the boat to be transported back to land, authorities said.

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Ol’ Salty II arrived on July 25 in Montauk, N.Y., where Slater was taken off the boat and declared dead on the scene, according to police. An autopsy is scheduled to be performed to determine a cause of death, including the possibility of whether an equipment malfunction occurred, authorities said.

Meanwhile, Ol’ Salty began heading home. At about 8 a.m. on July 25, Capt. Nick Caruso wrote on the boat’s Facebook page, “We're coming home. Sad end. Our deepest, sorrow and sympathy to the family and friends of the lost brother wreck diver.”

Since then, Slater’s family took to Facebook with this statement in part: “Steve was a hugely respected and well-liked British wreck and technical diver. Steve pursued his passion, actively researching, then searching and diving missing wrecks with his friends. Steve died diving the  Andrea Doria, a wreck on many divers' bucket list. We are all heartbroken, but draw comfort knowing he was doing something that he loved.”

Slater is the eighth person to die while exploring the depths of the ocean around the Andrea Doria, an Italian luxury liner that sank in 1956. Two years ago, Thomas Pritchard, a 64-year-old scuba diver, was part of a diving excursion on John Jack, a 50-foot commercial diving boat out of Point Pleasant, when he was lost at sea and presumed dead. Pritchard was a longtime member of the neural and behavioral sciences faculty at Penn State College of Medicine.

For Belmar-based Ol’ Salty II Sports Fishing Charters, the four-day diving excursion to the Andrea Doria was the third of this month — and the final for the year to this destination for the boat, operated by Nick Caruso Enterprises Inc.

The company’s veteran captains and crews have more than 40 collective years of sport fishing and scuba diving experience, according to its website, which also dedicates an entire page to the technical and safety capabilities of its boat.

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