Marine Accident Report - Ramming of the Eads Bridge by Barges in Tow of the M/V Anne Holly with Subsequent Ramming and near breakaway of the President of the Casino on the Admiral

St. Louis, Missouri
April 4, 1998

NTSB Number: MAR-00-01
NTIS Number: PB2000-916401
Adopted September 8, 2000
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Executive Summary

About 1950 on April 4, 1998, a tow of the M/V Anne Holly, comprising 12 loaded and 2 empty barges, which was traveling northbound on the Mississippi River through the St. Louis Harbor, struck the Missouri-side pier of the center span of the Eads Bridge. Eight barges broke away from the tow and drifted back through the Missouri span. Three of these barges drifted toward the President Casino on the Admiral (Admiral), a permanently moored gaming vessel below the bridge on the Missouri side of the river. The drifting barges struck the moored Admiral, causing 8 of its 10 mooring lines to break. The Admiral then rotated clockwise downriver, away from the Missouri riverbank. The captain of the Anne Holly disengaged his vessel from the six remaining barges in the tow and placed the Anne Holly's bow against the Admiral's bow to hold it against the bank. About the time the Anne Holly began pushing against the Admiral, the Admiral's next-to-last mooring line parted. The Anne Holly and the single mooring wire that remained attached to the Admiral's stern anchor held the Admiral near the Missouri bank. No deaths resulted from the accident; 50 people were examined for minor injuries. Of those examined, 16 were sent to local hospitals for further treatment. Damages were estimated at $11 million.

Probable Cause

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the ramming of the Eads Bridge in St. Louis Harbor by barges in tow of the Anne Holly and the subsequent breakup of the tow was the poor decision-making of the captain of the Anne Holly in attempting to transit St. Louis Harbor with a large tow, in darkness, under high current and flood conditions, and the failure of the management of American Milling, L.P., to provide adequate policy and direction to ensure the safe operation of its towboats.

The National Transportation Safety Board also determines that the probable cause of the near breakaway of the President Casino on the Admiral was the failure of the owner, the local and State authorities, and the U.S. Coast Guard to adequately protect the permanently moored vessel from waterborne and current-related risks.

The Safety Board's investigation identified the following major safety issues:

  • the advisability of the Anne Holly captain's decision to make the upriver transit and the effectiveness of safety management oversight on the part of American Milling, L.P.,
  • the effectiveness of safety measures provided for the permanently moored vessel President Casino on the Admiral, and
  • the adequacy of public safety for permanently moored vessels.

As a result of this investigation, the Safety Board made safety recommendations to the U.S. Coast Guard, the Research and Special Programs Administration, the States of Missouri and Illinois, the cities of St. Louis and East St. Louis, the National League of Cities, the American Association of Port Authorities, the American Gas Association, the American Public Gas Association, President Casinos, Inc., Laclede Gas Company, and American Milling, L.P.

Recommendations

New Recommendations

As a result of its investigation, the National Transportation Safety Board makes the following safety recommendations:

To the U.S. Coast Guard:

Seek authority to require domestic towing companies to develop and implement an effective safety management system to ensure adequate management oversight of the maintenance and operation of all towing vessels. (M-00-10)

Conduct a study of the lighting in St. Louis Harbor to determine whether the light level impairs nighttime navigation and take corrective action as necessary. (M-00-11)

Take the following three actions under your Ports and Waterways Safety Act authority: a) require that the owners of all operating permanently moored vessels that are accessible to the public provide and document formal training in crowd management techniques for all personnel on such vessels; b) require that periodic drills be conducted to reinforce the crowd management training; and c) require that the vessel owners amend their emergency plans to reflect crowd management techniques. (M-00-12)

Take the lead, in cooperation with appropriate port and waterways stakeholders, to develop contingency plans to assist in marine-related incidents, such as search and rescue operations, fires, capsizings, or sinkings involving passenger vessels or permanently moored public facilities within St. Louis Harbor. Also, amend the St. Louis Harbor Emergency Response Plan to reflect these changes. (M-00-13)

Conduct, in cooperation with the States of Missouri and Illinois and the cities of St. Louis and East St. Louis, regular drills to exercise the contingency plans for a variety of different marine scenarios, such as stopping breakaway vessels or rescuing large numbers of people from the Mississippi River. (M-00-14)

Either require owners of permanently moored vessels to protect their vessels from waterborne and current-related risks so that their permanently moored vessels are, in fact, equivalent to buildings or require that the owners obtain U.S. Coast Guard certificates of inspection for their permanently moored vessels. (M-00-15)

Do not allow permanently moored vessels to be sited in locations in which they are not protected from waterborne and current-related risk events, including breakaways, allisions, sinking, capsizing, etc. (M-00-16)

To the Research and Special Programs Administration:

Require corrective action as appropriate to ensure that pipeline operators have the means to shut off the flow of natural gas to permanently moored vessels in a timely manner, even during periods of high-water conditions. (P-00-14)

To the State of Missouri:

Conduct, in cooperation with the U.S. Coast Guard, the State of Illinois, and the cities of St. Louis and East St. Louis, regular drills to exercise the contingency plans for a variety of different marine scenarios, such as stopping breakaway vessels or rescuing large numbers of people from the Mississippi River. (M-00-17)

Either require owners of permanently moored vessels to protect their vessels from waterborne and current-related risks so that their permanently moored vessels are, in fact, equivalent to buildings or require that the owners obtain U.S. Coast Guard certificates of inspection for their permanently moored vessels. (M-00-18)

To the State of Illinois:

Conduct, in cooperation with the U.S. Coast Guard, the State of Missouri, and the cities of St. Louis and East St. Louis, regular drills to exercise the contingency plans for a variety of different marine scenarios, such as stopping breakaway vessels or rescuing large numbers of people from the Mississippi River. (M-00-19)

To the City of St. Louis:

Establish and implement oversight procedures to ensure that owners of operational permanently moored vessels that are accessible to the public in St. Louis Harbor conduct and document fire drills. (M-00-20)

Take the following three actions: a) require that the owners of all operating permanently moored vessels that are accessible to the public in St. Louis Harbor provide and document formal training in crowd management techniques for all personnel on such vessels; b) require that periodic drills be conducted to reinforce the crowd management training; and c) require that the vessel owners amend their emergency plans to reflect crowd management techniques. (M-00-21)

Ensure that harbor emergency responders develop, in conjunction with local permanently moored vessel owners, including President Casinos, Inc., and the McDonald's Corporation, contingency plans for boarding and exiting the vessels when the standard means of egress become unusable and amend the St. Louis Harbor Emergency Response Plan to reflect the new procedures. (M-00-22)

Conduct, in cooperation with the U.S. Coast Guard, the States of Missouri and Illinois, and the city of East St. Louis, regular drills to exercise the contingency plans for a variety of different marine scenarios, such as stopping breakaway vessels or rescuing large numbers of people from the Mississippi River. (M-00-23)

Either require owners of permanently moored vessels to protect their vessels from waterborne and current-related risks so that their permanently moored vessels are, in fact, equivalent to buildings or require that the owners obtain U.S. Coast Guard certificates of inspection for their permanently moored vessels. (M-00-24)

To the City of East St. Louis:

Conduct, in cooperation with the U.S. Coast Guard, the States of Missouri and Illinois, and the city of St. Louis, regular drills to exercise the contingency plans for a variety of different marine scenarios, such as stopping breakaway vessels or rescuing large numbers of people from the Mississippi River. (M-00-25)

To the National League of Cities (M-00-26):
To the American Association of Port Authorities (M-00-27):

Inform your members of the April 4, 1998, near breakaway of the permanently moored President Casino on the Admiral in St. Louis Harbor and of the waterborne and current-related risks associated with similarly located permanently moored vessels.

To the American Gas Association (P-00-15 and P-00-16):
To the American Public Gas Association (P-00-17 and P-00-18):

Advise your members of the natural gas leak that resulted from the April 4, 1998, accident affecting the President Casino on the Admiral in St. Louis Harbor and recommend that they participate in port contingency plan drill exercises involving permanently moored vessels that are supplied with natural gas.

Urge your members to take corrective action as appropriate to ensure that they can shut off the flow of natural gas to permanently moored vessels in a timely manner, even during periods of high-water conditions.

To President Casinos, Inc.:

Develop guidelines for making periodic public address announcements during emergencies to provide direction and ensure patron safety. (M-00-28)

Require and document that all President Casino on the Admiral personnel receive formal training in crowd management techniques, and conduct periodic drills to reinforce this training so that vessel staff can perform effectively in an emergency. Also, amend the President Casino on the Admiral's Emergency Evacuation Procedures to reflect crowd management techniques. (M-00-29)

Develop and exercise contingency plans for emergency egress from the President Casino on the Admiral to ensure that occupants can exit the vessel in a timely and orderly manner when the standard means of egress become unusable and amend the President Casino on the Admiral's Emergency Evacuation Procedures to reflect the new procedures. (M-00-30)

Develop and implement a safety management system for the President Casino on the Admiral that anticipates and provides appropriate means of responding to all foreseeable emergencies. (M-00-31)

Site the President Casino on the Admiral in a location in which it is protected from waterborne and current-related risk events, including breakaways, allisions, sinking, capsizing, etc. (M-00-32)

To the Laclede Gas Company:

Require that your emergency response teams participate in port contingency plan drill exercises involving permanently moored vessels that are supplied with natural gas. (P-00-19)

To American Milling, L.P.:

Develop and implement a safety management system similar to the Responsible Carrier Program used by the American Waterways Operators; the system should establish effective policies and procedures to enhance the safety of vessel operations. (M-00-33)

Previously Issued Recommendations Classified in This Report

To the U.S. Coast Guard:

In conjunction with the towing vessel industry, develop and implement an effective safety management code to ensure adequate management oversight of the maintenance and operation of vessels involved in oil transportation by barges. (M-98-104)

Safety Recommendation M-98-104 (previously classified "Open–Unacceptable Response") is classified "Closed–Unacceptable Action/Superseded" in the "Captain's Decision-making" section of this report. It is superseded by Safety Recommendation M-00-10, issued in this report.