U.S. Coast Guard to Hold Public Hearing on Fatal Bouchard No. 255 Barge Explosion

A Corpus Christi Fire Department vessel attempts to extinguish a fire onboard the Bouchard No. 255 tank barge approximately three miles from the Port Aransas, Texas, jetties Oct. 20, 2017. U.S. Coast Guard Photo

The U.S. Coast Guard is scheduled to conduct a formal public hearing beginning Monday to consider evidence related to an explosion and fire aboard the Bouchard No. 255 tank barge that claimed the lives of two people.

The explosion, fire, and subsequent loss of life took place off the coast of Port Aransas, Texas on October 20, 2017.

The Coast Guard said initially that the barge was carrying 140,000 barrels of crude oil to a refinery when the incident occurred.

The articulated tug-barge (ATB) unit belongs to Bouchard Transportation, the United States’ largest independently-owned ocean-going petroleum barge company.

The hearing is scheduled to convene at Coast Guard Sector Houston-Galveston at 8 a.m. Monday and will continue to July 27, 2018.

The hearing will focus on the condition of the barge prior to and at the time of the casualty, Bouchard Transportation organizational structure and culture, the regulatory compliance record of the Bouchard No. 255 tank barge and the towing vessel Buster Bouchard, and the Coast Guard inspections program.

The National Transportation Safety Board, which is conducting its own investigation, will fully participate in the formal public hearing.

The Coast Guard has established an e-mail address for the public and interested parties to provide information, ask questions and make comments related to the ongoing investigation and scheduled hearing. This e-mail will be checked regularly and all correspondence will be acknowledged. The e-mail is [email protected].

Media is invited to attend the hearing.