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Accident Report Detail

Marine Accident Brief: Barge Breakaway and Contact with the Emsworth Locks and Dams

Executive Summary

​On January 13, 2018, at 0630 local time, 27 dry cargo barges broke free from the Jacks Run barge fleeting area at mile 4 on the right descending bank of the Ohio River near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The barges drifted uncontrolled downriver and, beginning at 0712, struck the dams at the US Army Corps of Engineers Emsworth Locks and Dams complex, located at mile 6.2. Two Corps of Engineers workboats moored at the foot of the dam were also struck and driven into one of the dam’s concrete piers, causing significant damage to both vessels. Nine barges and the Army workboats were declared constructive total losses in the accident. Total damage exceeded $12.5 million.

Probable Cause

​The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the barge breakaway at the Jacks Run fleeting area and the barges’ contact with the Emsworth Locks and Dams was the failure of the fleeting area owner, Allegheny County Sanitary Authority, and the operator, Industry Terminal and Salvage Company, to maintain the area’s mooring cells and prevent shoaling, which resulted in inadequate mooring arrangements during highwater and ice conditions. Contributing to the accident was the Army Corps of Engineers and Coast Guard’s lack of resources and authority to effectively inspect fleeting areas and ensure that they are maintained.

Accident Location: Emsworth , PA USA Ohio River, mile 6.2
Accident Date: 1/13/2018
Accident ID: DCA18PM011

Date Adopted: 5/17/2019
NTSB Number: MAB1911
NTIS Number:  

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