USCG: Alcohol Contributed to Towboat Grounding

The Nikki Jo C, 2016 (video still via social media)

Published Dec 18, 2019 6:28 PM by The Maritime Executive

On December 4, U.S. Coast Guard Sector Virginia suspended the merchant mariner credential of a towboat captain after determining that he was under the influence of alcohol when his vessel ran aground. 

On November 14, the tugboat Nikki Jo C drifted off course and ran aground outside the main channel of the Rappahannock River. 

After the initial response, the Coast Guard, the Virginia Marine Resource Commission and the Richmond County Sheriff's Office conducted an investigation that included testing the crew's blood alcohol content. The results showed that the captain of the vessel was intoxicated at the time of the incident, with a BAC above the 0.04 percent federal limit for the operation of a commercial vessel.

The captain's MMC suspension will be for a period of 12 months followed by a six month probation, provided that he completes all conditions of his settlement agreement.  If he fails to satisfy the conditions of the agreement, the USCG said, the credential will be permanently revoked.

The 1980-built Nikki Jo C (also reported as Niki Jo C) is a 1,200 horsepower inland towboat operated by a Virginia-based company. As of Tuesday, she was moored at a shipyard in the town of Weems, Virginia.