NTSB: Second Mate Fell Asleep Prior to Tug Grounding


The articulated tug Nathan E. Stewart ran aground in the Seaforth Channel of British Columbia on October 13, 2016 probably due to the second mate falling asleep while on watch, a report by US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) shows.

NTSB determined that the second mate fell asleep in the wheelhouse before the tug and its ATB barge DBL 55 ran aground. The investigation also found out that the ineffective implementation of the company’s safety management system procedures for watchstanding contributed to the grounding.

At the time of the accident, the Nathan E. Stewart was en route to the Port of Vancouver with the empty DBL 55.

None of the crewmembers were injured, but environmental damage occurred when approximately 29,000 gallons of fuel and lube oil were released. The accident, which also caused the vessel to partially sink, was estimated to have cased some USD 12 million in damages to the vessel and barge.

NTSB noted that the crew of the Kirby Offshore Marine ATB failed to follow the company’s safety management system as a second watchstander should have been on duty with the second mate.

On November 14, nearly a month after the accident, the Nathan E. Stewart was raised by a salvage team using a heavy-lift floating crane and then placed on a deck barge to be towed to Surrey, British Columbia.

A post-accident survey of the Nathan E. Stewart revealed extensive deformation of the bottom of the vessel’s hull with multiple penetrations in the hull plating.

The tugboat was considered a constructive total loss at an estimated value of USD 6.4 million.

Image Courtesy: Canadian Coast Guard; Kirby Offshore Marine

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