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Accident Report Detail

Collision of Towing Vessel/Barge Natures Way Commander/ACBL 3111 with Barge CE-858, Gulf Intracoastal Waterway

Executive Summary

The ACBL 3111, a loaded hopper barge pushed by the uninspected towing vessel Natures Way Commander, collided with the moored U.S. Army Corps of Engineers deck barge CE-858 at about 1630 on February 1, 2012.

About 30 minutes before the collision, the Natures Way Commander was pushing six loaded hopper barges, arranged two wide by three long, toward the Port Allen Lock from the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway. The pilot operating the Natures Way Commander contacted the Port Allen Lock lockmaster by radio to request entry to the lock for transit to the Mississippi River. The lockmaster recommended that the pilot hold up because of the potential effects of a rainstorm approaching from the west. The pilot agreed and reduced his speed to delay entry into the lock.

As the rainfall intensity and wind speed increased, the pilot’s visibility became impaired and he attempted to stop his vessel and barges. However, about 1630 the starboard lead barge collided with the Corps deck barge CE-858, which was moored on the starboard (southwest) side of the waterway. According to the pilot, he could not communicate with two deckhands stationed at the head of the tow on the port and starboard sides because of the noise of the heavy rainfall.

Probable Cause

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the collision between the barge ACBL 3111 and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers barge CE-858 was the failure of the pilot of the towboat Natures Way Commander to anticipate the effects of the heavy rain on his visibility and ability to communicate with the forward lookout as he approached the Port Allen Lock in a narrow waterway and his failure to take appropriate measures to avoid the collision.

Accident Location:   , LA   Port Allen Lock
Accident Date: 2/1/2012
Accident ID: DCA12LM008

Date Adopted: 4/20/2012
NTSB Number: MAB-12-02
NTIS Number:  

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