Proceedings Of The Marine

SPR 2014

Proceedings magazine is a communication tool for the Coast Guard's Marine Safety & Security Council. Each quarterly magazine focuses on a specific theme of interest to the marine industry.

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60 Proceedings Spring 2014 Finally, the steersman turned to deckhand 2 and said, "It didn't steer right." Shortly After the Collision Following the collision, the tank ship turned around in the river and came to anchor facing up bound. The tank ship suffered minimal damage with paint scrapings and oil resi- due. The tanker crew did not report any injuries. The towing vessel pushed into a pier on the west bank near the vicinity of the collision and sustained minimal damage to surface areas and from the backlash of the face wires. One crew member sustained a shoulder injury because of the collision. Sector New Orleans command center received notifcation of the collision at 1:41 a.m. on July 23, 2008. Investigative Findings The VTS playback showed the towing vessel slowed from 4.3 knots to 3.4 knots at 1:30 a.m., and the tanker slowed from 14.3 knots to 12.9 knots. However, there was not enough time or stopping distance to prevent the collision; the towing vessel had an air clutch that takes roughly six to seven seconds to engage. Based on the reaction time of the air clutch, investigators found that the towing vessel was not backed after the frst mention of the need to reverse. Additionally, the VTS did not show any erratic movements made by the towing vessel during its transit from Stone Oil, with the exception of some wavering movements just before the turn to port. The watch stander said that the towing ves- sel had made no erratic movements or any other deviation from its intended course, and "according to the course he was running, he was well out of the way. It was no concern." Oil Dock. During the transit from Stone Oil, not more than 30 minutes underway, the steersman spilled a drink in the wheelhouse and called deckhand 2 to bring him a mop. Deckhand 2 brought the steersman a mop and left it with him. Deckhand 2 said under testimony that when he took the mop to the wheelhouse, the steersman "seemed like he was okay." (NOTE: It is also apparent to marine investigators that the steersman had situational awareness, based on his track record from the time it left Stone Oil until at least fve minutes and 13 seconds prior to the collision.) At 1:27 a.m., the towing vessel slowly turned to port. Less than a minute later, the tank pilot called out to the unknown towing vessel: "Sixteen to this tow. Looks like you got one barge right across from DC Harvey." Twenty seconds later, vessel traffc service answered back and informed the tank ship of the identity of the towing vessel. The tank ship pilot called the towing vessel again. The steersman testifed that he heard the previous calls, but did not realize the tank ship was trying to hail him — until he heard the towing vessel's name. Once he heard the ves- sel's name he looked up to see that it had turned into the river. He attempted to steer the vessel out of the path of the tanker, but could not. At 1:28 a.m., the pilot on the tank ship ordered the master to blow the ship's whistle and then ordered "full astern." Meanwhile, back on the towing vessel, the steersman con- tinued to steer the towing vessel with the primary steer- ing, but never attempted to use the fanking rudders, nor attempted to turn to port when the steering would not go to starboard. The steersman did not back down or reverse the throttle in an attempt to slow or stop the towing vessel, until he heard someone on the radio say: "Back on it." At 1:30 a.m., the two deckhands stepped outside the tow- ing vessel and witnessed the tank ship approach. Seconds later the tank ship collided with the barge — causing the facing wires attaching the towing vessel to the barge to break —a nd separating the towing vessel from the barge. The barge wrapped around the bow of the tank ship and then split — spilling more than 282 thousand gallons of oil into the Mississippi River. The towing vessel then rocked violently side to side and spun around, but stayed afoat. Deckhand 2 proceeded to the wheelhouse to locate the steersman. When he reached the steersman, he started ask- ing questions, but the steersman remained unresponsive. The fuel barge DM 932 is placed aboard the carrier barge as salvage opera- tions of the wreck on the Mississippi River at New Orleans come to an end. The bow section of the barge was removed from the river Aug. 9, 2008. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Offcer Adam C. Baylor. Spring2014_FINAL.indd 60 3/21/14 11:14 AM

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