Crew member sustains fatal injuries
The TSB has issued marine investigation report on tug Western Tugger and barge Arctic Lift I fatal accident, 33 nautical miles southwest of Burgeo, Newfoundland and Labrador 10 May 2013.
On 10 May 2013, at approximately 0625 Newfoundland and Labrador Daylight Time, the barge Arctic Lift I, which was carrying a cargo of steel rebar, capsized while under tow by the tug Western Tugger in moderate weather about 33 nautical miles southwest of Burgeo, Newfoundland and Labrador. The subsequent strain on the tow wire caused an auxiliary brake drum on the tow winch to shatter, and parts of it struck a crew member, who sustained fatal injuries.
On 04 May, at approximately 0530,Footnote 9 the tug and barge departed Sorel. The voyage was expected to take 7 days at an average speed of 5 knots. The towing arrangement consisted of 2 wire bridles and a chain pennant fitted to the tow wire. The tow wire was paid out to 425 m once the tug and barge reached open sea, and about 1 m was paid out every 24 hours thereafter. Once underway, the crew, with the exception of 1 deckhand on day work, stood a watch of 6 hours on and 6 off.
The first 6 days of the voyage were uneventful, and the tug and barge proceeded on schedule. On 10 May at 0400, the mate on watch verified visually that the barge was towing normally.Footnote 10 Shortly after that, heavy fog rolled in, and the mate was unable to see the barge again during the watch. The master arrived on the bridge at about 0545, but was unable to see the barge. The mate left the bridge shortly after the master took over the watch.
At 0615, when the fog cleared somewhat, the master saw that the Arctic Lift I had acquired a large starboard list and immediately reduced power on the Western Tugger. The deckhand on watch with the master went to the winch room to loosen the nut used to tighten the secondary brake, and the second engineer stood by the winch controls to release them as required.
At about 0620, the bow of the barge rose out of the water and, as the barge capsized to starboard, the entire length of submerged tow wire was lifted out of the water. When the strain came on the winch, it shattered the secondary brake drum. Shards of the brake drum were projected into the forward area of the winch room and struck the deckhand.
The second engineer and other crew members were alerted by the loud noise of the drum shattering and immediately came to the aid of the deckhand. The crew administered first aid, while the master called Marine Communication and Traffic Services Port aux Basques to request medical assistance. The radio medical doctor recommended a helicopter medical evacuation for the patient. A search-and-rescue helicopter was on scene at about 0930, and the injured crew member was airlifted to the hospital in Stephenville, NL. However, the crew member died before arrival at the hospital.
After the capsizing of the barge, the master had the main winch drum seized with wire and shackles, and after consultation with the owner, began towing the overturned empty barge at about 2 knots toward Mount Carmel, NL,Footnote 11 where the company’s marine base was located (Appendix D). On 12 May, due to worsening weather, the tug and barge sought refuge in Fortune Bay, NL. By 16 May, the weather had improved, and the Western Tugger and Arctic Lift I resumed the voyage, reaching Mount Carmel on 20 May.
Findings as to causes and contributing factors
Findings as to risk
More information may be found by reading the investigation report issued by Transport Safety Board of Canada