The stern of the 81-foot fishing vessel Pappy's Pride appears above the waterline beside the vessel's inflatable life raft after a collision near the Galveston jetties in Galveston, Texas, Jan 15, 2020. Coast Guard crews continue to search for two of the four crew members aboard after a collision between the fishing vessel and the 600-foot chemical tanker Bow Fortune. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Station Galveston).

NTSB Determines Cause of the Fatal Collision of a Tanker and Fishing Vessel Near Galveston, Texas

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 1984
November 4, 2021

The National Transportation Safety Board has identified a fishing vessel captain’s decision to navigate towards a Galveston entrance shipping channel, which created a close quarters situation in dense fog, as the probable cause of a fatal collision between the vessel and the tanker Bow Fortune.

The NTSB issued Marine Accident Brief 21/21 Thursday for its investigation of the January 14, 2020, fatal collision near Galveston, Texas. 

The Bow Fortune was transiting inbound in the Outer Bar Channel while the fishing vessel, Pappy’s Pride, was transiting outbound. The two vessels collided in dense fog and the fishing vessel capsized and sank. Three of the four crewmembers aboard the fishing vessel died. One crewmember sustained serious injury. There were no injuries to the pilot or crew of 28 on board the Bow Fortune. A surface sheen of diesel was reported. The fishing vessel was a total loss valued at $575,000.

The graphic illustrates the Pappy’s Pride’s outbound track (red) from Galveston and Bow Fortune’s inbound track (blue) just before the collision. Source: trackline data USCG, background NOAA, annotated by NTSB

Prior to the collision, the pilot of the Bow Fortune used VHF radio to hail the Pappy’s Pride three times and the Bow Fortune sounded two danger signals. The Pappy’s Pride’s captain had radar, automatic radar plotting aid and electronic charts onboard capable of showing the automatic identification system (AIS) information of nearby vessels. The Pappy’s Pride AIS history showed that the captain made multiple course changes, indicating he was actively steering; however, the Pappy’s Pride did not reply to any of the radio calls or danger signals.

Investigators determined the probable cause of the collision was the captain of the Pappy’s Pride’s outbound course toward the ship channel, which created a close quarters situation in restricted visibility. Contributing to the collision was the lack of communication from the captain of the Pappy’s Pride.

“Early communication can be an effective measure in averting close quarters situations,” the report said. “The use of VHF radio can help to dispel assumptions and provide operators with the information needed to better assess each vessel’s intentions.”

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