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NTSB: Failure to secure barge anchor led to $100 million casualty

Jun 4, 2019 04:37 PM

The dragging anchor struck three electrical cables and two oil pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac

The bow of the barge Erie Trader after the accident. The inset shows the remnant shank of the starboard anchor in the anchor pocket.

U.S. Coast Guard photo

The bow of the barge Erie Trader after the accident. The inset shows the remnant shank of the starboard anchor in the anchor pocket.

The following is text of a news release from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB):

(WASHINGTON) — At 1732 local time on April 1, 2018, the articulated tug-barge (ATB) Clyde S. VanEnkevort/Erie Trader was westbound with a crew of 14 in the Straits of Mackinac, Michigan, when the barge’s starboard anchor, which had unknowingly released and was dragging on the bottom, struck and damaged three underwater electrical transmission cables and two oil pipelines. About 800 gallons of dielectric mineral oil leaked into the water from the cables; the oil pipelines sustained only superficial damage. Repair and replacement of the cables was estimated at more than $100 million. No injuries were reported.

Probable cause

‚ÄčThe National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the anchor contact of articulated tug-barge Clyde S. VanEnkevort/Erie Trader with underwater electricity transmission cables and oil pipelines was the failure of the anchor detail to secure the barge’s starboard anchor, and the improper adjustment of the anchor brake band after the engineering crew replaced the brake liner, the combination of which allowed the anchor and chain to pay out underway.

Click here to read the report.

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