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Casualty briefs

May 31, 2017 02:47 PM
The gas barge RTC 150, coupled to the ATB tug Meredith C. Reinauer, awaits high tide after grounding in the Hudson River near Catskill, N.Y.

Courtesy U.S. Coast Guard

The gas barge RTC 150, coupled to the ATB tug Meredith C. Reinauer, awaits high tide after grounding in the Hudson River near Catskill, N.Y.

NTSB: Flooding source unknown in tug sinking
Federal investigators believe gradual flooding into an aft void space caused a tugboat to sink in the Caribbean Sea in late 2015. However, they could not confirm the source of the flooding or determine if repairs conducted shortly before the accident contributed to the loss.

The 2,400-hp U.S.-flagged Spence departed Cartagena, Colombia, for the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, on Dec. 13, 2015, with a barge in tow. At about 1545 the next afternoon, while in open water 115 nm north of Cartagena, the tug abruptly listed 25 degrees to starboard, according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) accident report. Crew told investigators the engine room had appeared normal, water tanks were not leaking and the bilges were dry.

The captain notified the home office of the problem and the vessels’ location. The list soon worsened to 35 degrees, and the four crewmembers abandoned ship onto the cargo barge Guantanamo Bay Express. Three of the men were injured in the process. The tug sank — without capsizing — at about 1730.

Spence, built in 1974 and owned by TransAtlantic Lines of Greenwich, Conn., underwent extensive hull, deck and internal repairs at a government shipyard in the 11 weeks before the accident. The vessel, which made regular supply runs between Jacksonville, Fla., and Guantanamo Bay, received its ABS Load Line certificate Dec. 13, the day it departed Cartagena.

The Coast Guard Marine Safety Center determined the most likely scenario “involved gradual flooding in the aft void, which caused the aft deck to submerge and the vessel to enter a lolling condition, resulting in a sudden list to starboard. In this state, water would then have likely entered other spaces through downflooding points, causing (progressive) flooding and sinking by the stern without capsizing.”

The four crewmen stayed on the barge overnight as a cargo ship stood by. A Coast Guard cutter reached the vessel at 0830 the next morning. Crew were later transferred to a Colombian naval ship and brought back to Cartagena.  
Towboat partially sinks at Louisiana fleeting area
The Coast Guard is trying to determine why a fleet boat tied alongside a barge partially sank at mile marker 363 in the Mississippi River.

Authorities learned at about 0300 on Feb. 26 that Sonny J’s stern had submerged while tied up at the Vidalia Dock and Storage facility near Vidalia, La. The company, based in Natchez, Miss., owns the 1,200-hp vessel.

Vidalia Dock and Storage owner Carla Jenkins said surveyors determined “crew negligence” caused the accident, although she declined to elaborate.

Personnel from Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Vicksburg and an oil spill response team reached the towboat later that morning. Crews laid boom around the vessel, plugged its vents and placed sorbents in the water. Coast Guard spokesman Brandon Giles said light sheening was reported inside the boom.

Big River Shipbuilders & Salvage of Vicksburg, Miss., conducted the salvage. The company’s team used cranes to raise the towboat and pumps to dewater it, Big River President J.O. Smith said. The salvage crew did not find any obvious reason why the vessel took on water. 

The Coast Guard said the accident remains under investigation.

ATB with gasoline cargo grounds in Hudson River
An articulated tug-barge (ATB) unit loaded with 60,000 barrels of gasoline ran aground in the Hudson River near Catskill, N.Y., on a foggy April morning.

The 7,200-hp Meredith C. Reinauer and 150,000-barrel barge RTC 150 became stuck in the muddy river bottom at about 0830 on April 4. The vessels were carrying fuel upriver from Newburgh to Albany, N.Y. There were no injuries and the double-hulled barge did not breach. 

The Coast Guard is still investigating the accident and declined to comment on the cause. Photos show the barge’s bow left the navigation channel just beyond a green channel marker.

Staten Island-based Reinauer Transportation Co. also is conducting an investigation into what happened. Company spokesman Gary Gould said divers would inspect the hull for damage to determine if repairs were needed.

The 458-foot RTC 150 refloated with the tide about 11 hours after the grounding. The ATB traveled to Albany under escort to offload its cargo before returning to Staten Island.

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