NTSB reports on towboat’s expensive encounter with bridge

Written by Marine Log Staff
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The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has issued a report on an April 24, 2019, incident involving, the Terral River Service Inc. 2006-built towing vessel Edna T. Gattle.

The towing vessel was pushing the company’s 1943-built barge Terral 2 downbound on the Atchafalaya River through the Union Pacific Railway Bridge at mile 41.5, near Krotz Springs, La., when the captain lost control of the tow and the vessel and barge made contact with the bridge and piers.

As a result, the barge suffered $26,748 in damages, and the bridge sustained $500,000 in damages and was out of service for three days. No injuries or pollution were reported.

As usual, you have to read the whole report for a real insight into what went wrong, but the NTSB’s determination of the probable cause of the accident was the captain allowing the tow to proceed beyond a safe decision point without confirming the status of the bridge opening, given the high river current.

The report concludes with this note:

Bridge Transit Decision Points

Decision points in passage plans describe places or times when vessels must take action to avoid hazardous conditions. Such decision points should allow enough time and distance to safely execute a contingency plan. Passages that include lift and swing bridges must anticipate and account for delayed openings, especially in high-current scenarios.

Download the report HERE

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