The National Transportation Safety Board recently issued a Marine Accident Brief for its investigation of the January 14, 2020, fatal collision of the tanker Bow Fortune and the commercial trawler Pappy’s Pride near Galveston, Texas.
Bow Fortune was transiting inbound in the Galveston 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 fourth crewmember sustained serious injury.
There were no injuries to the pilot or crew of 28 on board Bow Fortune.
A surface sheen of diesel was reported while the trawler was a total loss valued at US$575,000.
Prior to the collision, the pilot of Bow Fortune used VHF radio to hail Pappy’s Pride three times and Bow Fortune sounded two danger signals.
The captain of Pappy’s Pride had radar, automatic radar plotting aid and electronic charts onboard capable of showing the automatic identification system (AIS) information of nearby vessels.
The AIS history of Pappy’s Pride showed that the captain made multiple course changes, indicating he was actively steering; however, 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 trawler captain’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 fishing boat captain.
“Early communication can be an effective measure in averting close quarters situations,” the NTSB 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.”
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