Towboat sinking blamed on ineffective hull maintenance says NTSB report

Towboat Miss Roslyn
Towboat Miss Roslyn

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has released a Marine Accident Brief about the capsizing and sinking of the fleet towboat Miss Roslyn, citing the company’s lack of effective hull inspection and maintenance program.

On October 9, 2018, at 1630 local time, the Miss Roslyn was traveling downbound at mile 142 on the Lower Mississippi River near Reserve, Louisiana, when she began to flood and list to starboard. The three crewmembers abandoned the towboat onto a moored fleet barge and a Good Samaritan vessel. The Miss Roslyn capsized and sank on her starboard side. No injuries were reported. There was a visible oil sheen; containment booms and absorbent pads were placed around the vessel. Damages from flooding were estimated at $1,130,000.

The Miss Roslyn was an uninspected twin-propeller towboat, built in 1979. She was originally named the Kathryn Eckstein and owned by Eckstein Marine Service. In November 1984, she was renamed, and in 2007, the Miss Roslyn was sold to Marquette Transportation Company Gulf-Inland.

The NTSB stated that the company’s lack of effective hull inspection and maintenance program resulted in flooding into a steering void through multiple wastage holes in the hull.

A marine survey undertaken on the salvaged vessel indicated severe wastage, including a hole and a fractured seam in the hull to the starboard steering void and a fractured deck plate on the stern deck above the port flanking void, and bubbles were observed on the hull, indicating corrosion holes to the following: both port and starboard flanking voids, starboard potable water tank and both port and starboard fuel tanks. Investigators noted the manhole covers to the starboard steering void had severe wastage. The marine surveyor estimated damages at $1,130,000 and considered the vessel a constructive total loss.

Shortly after starting the voyage, the captain noticed a persistent list that was “more than the normal starboard list,” which he stated occurred because the Miss Roslyn was “top-heavy,” and he made several round turns to starboard to attempt to alleviate the list. The turns slightly reduced the list, and since the captain was “comfortable” with the situation, he continued the downbound transit.

According to the port captain, the company convened a committee of six port captains to evaluate his decision to cross the river with a starboard list of undetermined origin and the starboard weather deck awash. The committee recommended that the captain’s employment be terminated, and it was.

Read the full report: MAB

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