NTSB reports on contact of tanker with multiple vessels on Lower Mississippi

Written by Marine Log Staff
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The National Transportation Safety Board has issued its report on an incident in which a fully laden product tanker plowed into moored vessels, barges and wharves causing some $40.5 million of damages.

The incident began on May 16, 2019, at 8.42 p.m. local time, when the 601.3-foot-long U.S.-flagged fully laden product tanker American Liberty got underway with a pilot on the Lower Mississippi River, at mile 140.2 near Reserve, La. The bridge team lost control of the vessel in the fast current, and made contact with moored vessels, barges, and wharfs along the left descending bank from miles 139.5 to 138.7 as it moved down river. Four injuries and no pollution were reported. There was a reported $40.5 million in damages to the vessels, barges, and terminals.


​The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the contact of the tank vessel American Liberty and multiple vessels, barges, and wharfs was poor bridge resource management and miscommunication between the pilot and the master, which led to the bridge team’s delay in carrying out an engine order and caused a delay in the vessel attaining sufficient speed to conduct an undocking maneuver in high river conditions. Contributing to the accident was the decision to release the assisting tugs before the undocking maneuver was completed.

The full report concludes with this guidance:

Bridge Resource Management (Communications)

The pilot and the bridge team should share the same mental model for the maneuver and fully understand the planned tasks. Communications should be open, involve discussion of the intended maneuvers, and should continue throughout the evolution. Clear orders and commands should be acknowledged and carried out promptly.

  • Download the full report HERE.
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