The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has issued an investigation report into the capsizing and sinking of crane barge Ambition that was towed by Karen Koby due to a lack of hull inspection and maintenance.
On 15 June 2022, about 0400 local time, the vessel Karen Koby was towing the crane barge Ambition when the barge capsized and sank in the Gulf of Mexico, about 48 miles southeast of Cameron, Louisiana. There were no persons on the barge, and none of the Karen Koby’s four crew were injured. The Ambition was partly submerged in about 54 feet of water, where it was later salvaged. The sunken barge released an estimated 1,980 gallons of oil. The Ambition and its crane were determined to be a total loss, with damages estimated at $6.3 million.
NTSB determined that the probable cause of the capsizing and sinking of the crane barge Ambition was the barge owner’s lack of an inspection and maintenance regime, and not conducting permanent repairs, which resulted in the failure of the hull and subsequent flooding.
Contributing to the capsizing was likely downflooding through an open deck hatch due to the tow operator’s failure to ensure adherence to its procedures for barge watertight integrity before getting underway, despite being aware of deficiencies with the watertight integrity of the barge.
– Effective Hull Inspection and Maintenance
– To protect vessels and the environment, it is good marine practice for vessel owners to conduct regular oversight and maintenance of hulls, including between drydock periods.
– An effective maintenance and hull inspection program should proactively address potential steel wastage, identify hull and watertight integrity deficiencies, and ensure corrosion issues are repaired in a timely manner by permanent means.
Download the report: Capsizing and Sinking of Crane Barge Ambition, Towed by Karen Koby
The NTSB’s origins can be traced to the Air Commerce Act of 1926, in which the US Congress charged the US Department of Commerce with investigating the causes of aircraft accidents. That responsibility was transferred to the Civil Aeronautics Board’s Bureau of Aviation Safety when it was created in 1940.