US Coast Guard has started investigating the grounding of a tug and barge, while NTSB reports on two tug-barge related maritime accidents
The US Coast Guard is investigating the collision and grounding of a tug and barge in Puerto Rico. Crew on tugboat Don Jaime, with deck barge Marilin H, were docking at Culebra Island’s Ensenada Honda auxiliary cargo dock on 20 April when there was an allision with a pier and a grounding. The tugboat and barge were refloated and there are no reports of injuries or any oil discharges.
On 21 April, US Coast Guard started its preliminary assessment of this marine casualty as the vessel owner, American Tugs and Barge Inc, co-ordinated dive operations to assess any potential damage to the vessels’ hulls. At the time of the incident, the vessel was reported to be carrying around 32,000 litres of diesel fuel in its tanks.
“We are looking to identify the causal factors in this incident to help prevent this situation from reoccurring,” said US Coast Guard’s sector San Juan chief of prevention, Commander José Rosario, “and also determine any potential damage to the docking pier, the vessel and the barge to ensure they are safe.”
He said the sector’s main priorities were “the protection of the environment, safety of people and vessels using these facilities.”
Other organisations and administrations, including the US Fish and Wildlife service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association and National Response Center were informed of the incident and the ongoing investigations.
The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has issued a report on a separate incident, warning tug and barge owners to ensure cargo loading is appropriately planned and managed. NTSB was investigating the collapse and spillage on containers off a barge being towed in Hawaii on 22 June 2020.
Around 50 containers were stacked on the after deck of cargo barge Ho’omaka Hou as it was being towed by Hoku Loa. Twenty-one containers fell into the ocean off the northeast coast of the big island of Hawaii from the deck, of which only eight were eventually recovered by salvors and 13 remain missing. This caused US$1.5M in cargo losses and US$131,000 damage to the barge and containers.
Through its investigation, NTSB determined the probable cause of the collapse of container stacks on board the barge Ho’omaka Hou. It said “the company did not provide the barge team with an initial barge load plan”.
Another probable cause was “inadequate procedures for monitoring stack weights” said the NTSB, adding, “this led to undetected reverse stratification of container stacks that subjected the stacks’ securing arrangements to increased forces while in transit at sea”.
Lessons should also be taken on board from the collision between offshore supply vessel (OSV) Cheramie Bo Truc 22 with inbound articulated tug-barge (ATB) unit Mariya Moran/Texas on 14 November 2019. Five crew and a pilot were on OSV Cheramie Bo Truc 22 and nine crew were aboard the ATB.
This collision near Texas Point and Sabine Pass caused the release of 30,000 litres of diesel oil, closure of the shipping waterway for 12 hours and almost US$2M in damage.
With a value of US$1.2M, Cheramie Bo Truc 22 was declared a total loss, while there was US$654,572 damage to Mariya Moran and Texas.
NTSB determined the probable cause of that accident in a recent report as a lack of communication between the vessels. Cheramie Bo Truc 22 mate’s turn across the path of the ATB during a meeting situation caused the collision, said the NTSB.
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