NTSB reports on deadly collision between fishing vessel and Odfjell tanker

Written by Nick Blenkey
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The National Transportation Safety Board issued Marine Accident Brief 21/21 Thursday for its investigation​ of the Jan. 14, 2020, fatal collision between the 37,395 dwt Odfjell managed chemical tanker Bow Fortune and an 81.7 foot American commercial fishing vessel, Pappy’s Pride.

Graphic illustrates the Pappy’s Pride’s outbound track (red) from Galveston and Bow Fortune’s inbound track (blue) just before the collision. Source: trackline data USCG, background NOAA, annotated by NTSB

The incident occurred near Galveston, Texas. The Bow Fortune was transiting inbound in the Outer Bar Channel while Pappy’s Pride was transiting outbound. The two vessels collided in dense fog and the fishing vessel capsized and sank. Three of the four crewmembers aboard the fishing vessel died. The other sustained serious injury. There were no injuries to the pilot or crew of 28 on board the Bow Fortune. A surface sheen of diesel was reported. The fishing vessel was a total loss valued at $575,000.

Prior to the collision, the pilot of the Bow Fortune used VHF radio to hail the Pappy’s Pride three times and the Bow Fortune sounded two danger signals. The Pappy’s Pride’s captain had radar, automatic radar plotting aid and electronic charts onboard capable of showing the automatic identification system (AIS) information of nearby vessels. The Pappy’s Pride AIS history showed that the captain made multiple course changes, indicating he was actively steering; however, the Pappy’s Pride did not reply to any of the radio calls or danger signals.

Investigators determined the probable cause of the collision was the captain of the Pappy’s Pride’s outbound course toward the ship channel, which created a close quarters situation in restricted visibility. Contributing to the collision was the lack of communication from the captain of the Pappy’s Pride.

“Early communication can be an effective measure in averting close quarters situations,” the report said. “The use of VHF radio can help to dispel assumptions and provide operators with the information needed to better assess each vessel’s intentions.”

As ever, there’s much more in the full NTSB report than in the bare-bones summary. You can download the Marine Accident Investigation Brief.

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