It's doubtful officials will ever determine why a cruise ship sank off the eastern coast of the United States earlier this week.

The Seabreeze One, the cruise ship travelling under a Panamanian flag that had been tied up under arrest for months in Halifax, went down on Sunday in heavy seas.

The ship sank in international waters, so Panama is responsible under international law for investigating the incident, something many are concerned the authorities in that country just won't do.

"Panama's track record of carrying out comprehensive investigations into vessel sinkings is not very good," said Steven Cotton, of the special seafarers department of the International Transport Workers Federation.

In fact, after speaking with the crewmembers of the Seabreeze One, Panama's investigator has already gone home to write his report.

The crew were plucked off the ship Sunday in a daring helicopter rescue and are currently stranded in Virginia. The ship's captain, Solon Popedopalis, left without speaking to the investigator.

Panama lost more ships in 1997 than any other country. Cotton says the country doesn't have the resources to investigate a ship sinking.

Seabreeze One apparently went down after the engine room flooded. But Cotton says a deep-sea dive is needed to find out what happened.

He says going down to the wreck is reasonable considering the suspicious circumstances surrounding the sinking.

"It's quite suspicious circumstances, given that the company that originally owned the vessel was recently in severe financial difficulties," Cotton said.

Seabreeze One had recently been bought and was on its way to a possible refit when it sank.