Allegations of Impropriety in Hudson Tug Sinking
Local media in the Hudson Valley have reported that the captain of the tugboat Specialist, which struck a stationary barge and sank in the early hours of March 12, was at the helm of a different tugboat at the time of the accident – and that the captain of the second tug may have been belowdecks with an unauthorized passenger.
The Specialist, along with the tugs Realist and Trevor, was made up to a large crane barge for a trip southbound on the Hudson river. James Morrison, the captain of the Realist, confirmed to the Journal News that Paul Crowley, the captain of the Specialist, was aboard the Realist and "doing a watch." He did not comment on the reason Crowley was on board.
“I did my six-hour watch. He was doing a watch,” Morrison told the paper. “Nobody ‘covered’ for anyone.”
Crowley was not on board the Specialist, and her mate, Paul Amon, was on watch at the time of impact. Amon initially escaped the wreck but returned to help his crewmates; he perished, along with Timothy Conklin and Harry Hernandez, who were below decks. The tug has since been raised and the bodies recovered.
The families of the deceased have filed suit against the owners of the Specialist and the Realist; the owner of the crane barge; the contractor at the Tappan Zee Bridge construction project; and the operator of the construction barge struck by the Specialist. A lawyer for Amon's widow said that it was "outrageous" that the Realist's captain could have been belowdecks with an unauthorized passenger; a lawyer for the tug’s owner denied that Morrison was involved in anything improper, but declined to elaborate, citing ongoing legal actions.