NTSB published its report on the capsizing and sinking of the towing vessel Natalie Jean, on March 12, 2018, on the Lower Mississippi River near New Orleans, Louisiana. Two of the three crewmembers on board the towboat died in the accident. The NTSB determined that the probable cause of the capsizing and sinking of the Natalie Jean was the company’s decision to place an inadequately vetted pilot on board the vessel.
The USCG issued guidance on the use of fixed fire pumps in lieu of portable fire pumps on Subchapter C and Subchapter M towing vessels, 65 feet or less. The guidance comes with the Policy Letter 01-19: ‘Equivalency Determination – Fire Pumps for Subchapter C and Subchapter M Towing Vessels’.
Svitzer announced that it has started sea trials of a new ‘industry-first’ remotely operated line catching technology prototype. The new mechanism is being trialled on the vessel Svitzer Trym, aiming to improve safety standards and reduce risks for crews during the process of connecting with other vessels.
According to the USCG, the Towing Vessel National Centre of Expertise launched a bulletin to remind towing vessel owners and operators of a 46 CFR Subchapter M implementation milestone that is quickly approaching. There is no requirement to issue to the USCG or TPO the HSP for approval; Yet, the plan is to be reviewed during inspections and audits.
A towboat hit St. Louis’ Eads Bridge on May 3, possibly because of increasing flood waters. According to USCG officials, the tugboat was damaged to its pilot house but there were no injuries. The bridge was not harmed neither. After the accident, USCG closed a part of the Mississippi to all ship traffic from mile marker 179 to 184,
USCG reminded owners and operators of towing vessels to ensure that 25% of their fleet has received a Certificate of Inspection before 22 July 2019, under Subchapter M. They must also schedule a vessel’s inspection before 22 April 2019 if the COI is expected to be received in the first year.
In the latest publication of its ‘Lessons Learned’ series, the UK P&I Club described a serious eye injury of a crew member while securing a tow. The Club noted that three crew members were probably not enough to safely manage an operation of this nature.
The US Coast Guard published an alert for towboats, warning them for very strong currents at the Lower Mississippi River. Namely, three marine casualties led to the sinking of towing vessels, while one of them resulted in a fatality. USCG says that it is vital for vessel operators to provide a wide berth when maneuvering around any other vessel or object.
The NTSB issued an investigation report on the flooding and sinking of the towing vessel ‘Nancy C’ on Lower Mississippi River, near Dyersville, Tennessee, in March 2018. The investigation identified poor maintenance as key cause of the incident.
The US Coast Guard informed that it suspended its search for a person who went into the water after a 54-foot towing vessel capsized at mile marker 55 on the lower Mississippi River north of Point A La Hache, Louisiana, on March 18. US Coast Guard crews searched around 158 square-nautical miles for about 18 hours but were unable to find the missing person.
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