Marine Accident Report

Capsizing of U.S. Small Passenger Vessel Lady D
Northwest Harbor, Baltimore, Maryland
March 6, 2004

NTSB Number MAR-06/01
NTIS Number PB2006-916401
PDF


Executive Summary:

On March 6, 2004, the small passenger vessel Lady D, a pontoon water taxi with 2 crewmembers and 23 passengers on board, was en route from Fort McHenry to Fells Point, Maryland, when it encountered a rapidly developing storm with high winds. The pontoon vessel began to roll in the waves and eventually continued over onto its starboard side and capsized. Personnel from the Naval Reserve Center Baltimore, a Navy training installation adjacent to Fort McHenry, witnessed the capsizing, called 911 to report the accident, and then launched a vessel to the scene to render assistance. Responders were able to rescue or recover all but 3 occupants of the Lady D within an hour of the accident. The bodies of the remaining victims were recovered from the waterway on March 14 and 15. As a result of this accident, 5 passengers died; 4 passengers suffered serious injuries; and 12 people sustained minor injuries. Vessel damage was estimated at $35,000.

The Safety Board’s investigation of this accident identified major safety issues in the following areas:

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the capsizing of the pontoon-style small passenger vessel Lady D was its lack of intact stability, which was insufficient to withstand the strong winds and waves that the boat encountered. The lack of intact stability was caused by overloading, which resulted from a combination of the following:

As a result of this investigation, the Safety Board makes recommendations to the U.S. Coast Guard.