NTSB: Survey Did Not Detect Hazard
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has released a Marine Accident Brief about an accident that occurred on April 15, 2019, involving the towing vessel DeJeanne Maria which struck the end of a submerged dredge pipeline while pushing two spud barges to the Gulf of Mexico.
The incident occurred on the Mississippi River in Pass A Loutre, two miles south of Pilottown, Louisiana. Following the contact, the three crewmembers abandoned the vessel to its barges and were rescued by a Good Samaritan vessel. The DeJeanne Maria later sank. There were no reported injuries, but 70 gallons of diesel fuel were discharged, and damage to the vessel was estimated at $650,000.
The NTSB determined that the probable cause of the contact was the last bathymetric survey not detecting the hazard, which had been brought to just below the surface due to an unsuccessful lift the day before. Even though the submerged pipeline’s buoy markings had a white light and were therefore not fully compliant with standards (flashing yellow light), due to his experience in the area, the captain of the DeJeanne Maria was aware that the buoy and others marked a submerged pipeline. When the end of the pipe was discovered on May 6 due to a second vessel strike, its buoy was sighted 75 feet downriver.
The report is available here.