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NTSB docket document implicates cell phone use in Duck Boat disaster

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collisionmicroThe NTSB has opened the docket on its investigation of the July 7, 2010 incident in which, at about 2:37 pm, the 250- foot-long empty sludge barge The Resource, which was being towed by the 79 foot-long towing vessel M/V Caribbean Sea, collided with the anchored amphibious small passenger vehicle the DUKW 34 in the Delaware River, near Philadelphia.


On board the DUKW 34 were 35 passengers and two crewmembers, and on board the Caribbean Sea were five crewmembers. Two passengers on the DUKW 34 died in the accident.

The docket contains factual reports prepared by the investigative team, including interview transcripts, photographs and other documents from the investigation. Additional material will be added to the docket as it becomes available. You can access it HERE

One document cites cell phone service records showing that the cell phone of the mate of the Caribbean Sea was used to make or receive 21 calls between 12.22 and 2.32 pm. The last call lasted 6 minutes, implying that the phone was in use at the time of collision.

The same document also notes:

“The mate made the following two entries in the vessel’s daily log, which is kept inside the vessel’s lower wheelhouse: ―1315 Underway w/Lt Barge The Resource from SW Sludge Dock‖, and ―1430 Made Rounds  -  Engine Room & Security, All Secure @ NE Sludge Dock w/ The Resource‖.80 The vessel had not actually been secured at the dock, and according to the vessel’s Automatic Identification System transmission at 1436, was still underway in the channel near Penn’s Landing on a course over ground of 13° and with a speed over ground of 5 knots.81 At 1437, the raked bow of The Resource struck the stern of anchored DUKW 34 and pushed the DUKW 34 forward briefly, then below the water’s surface.”

Although the mate gave an initial interview to the Coast Guard he later invoked his fifth amendment rights, says the document. It says that “One of the senior members of management with K-Sea Transportation [the owner of the Caribbean Sea] did provide a statement to the NTSB which indicated he had met briefly with the mate that evening, at the mate’s request. At that meeting, the mate informed the senior manager that while on watch, he had been made aware of a situation in which his young son had experienced a life-threatening emergency during a medical procedure taking place that day and that he had become consumed with dealing with this family crisis.”

March 7, 2011

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