Fire Aboard the Tug Scandia and the
Subsequent Grounding of the Tug and the
Tank Barge North Cape on Moonstone Beach,
South Kingston, Rhode Island
January 19, 1996
NTSB Number MAR-98/03
NTIS Number PB98-916403
PDF Document (461K)
Synopsis: On Friday afternoon, January 19, 1996, the U.S. tug Scandia had an engineroom fire while towing the unmanned U.S. tank barge North Cape, 4.5 miles off Point Judith, Rhode Island. All six crewmembers abandoned the Scandia amid 10-foot waves and 25-knot winds; however, no one was injured. The crew was unsuccessful in its attempts to release the anchor of the barge, which ran aground and spilled 828,000 gallons of home heating oil, causing the largest pollution incident in Rhode Island's history, an incident that led to the closing of local fisheries.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the fire damage aboard the tug Scandia and the subsequent grounding of and pollution from the barge North Cape was the Eklof Marine Corporation's inadequate oversight of maintenance and operations aboard those vessels, which permitted a fire of unknown origin to become catastrophic and eliminated any realistic possibility of arresting the subsequent drift and grounding of the barge. Contributing to the accident was the lack of adequate U.S. Coast Guard and industry standards addressing towing vessel safety.
In its investigation, the Safety Board identified the following safety issues:
As a result of its investigation of this accident, the Safety Board makes recommendations to the U.S. Coast Guard, the Eklof Marine Corporation, and the American Waterways Operators, Inc.