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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation M-15-001
Synopsis: On March 22, 2014, about 1235 central daylight time, the 607-foot-long bulk carrier Summer Wind with a Houston pilot on board collided with the 670-foot-long Miss Susan tow (a 70-foot-long towing vessel and two 300-foot-long tank barges loaded with fuel oil) in the Houston Ship Channel, Lower Galveston Bay, Texas. The visibility was restricted at the time due to fog. The bulk carrier was inbound to Houston, traveling in a north direction. The tow was bound for Port Bolivar on the east side of the Houston Ship Channel, traveling in an east direction. The collision breached the hull of the forward tank barge in the Miss Susan tow, and about 168,000 gallons of fuel oil spilled into the waterway. Two crewmembers on board the Miss Susan sustained minor injuries related to inhalation of fuel vapor. The total estimated damage was nearly $1,378,000 (excluding oil response and recovery efforts). The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determines that the probable cause of the collision was the Miss Susan captain’s attempt to cross the Houston Ship Channel ahead of the Summer Wind, thereby impeding the passage of the bulk carrier, which could transit only within the confines of the channel. Contributing to the accident was the failure of the Houston pilot and the Summer Wind master to set a safe speed given the restricted visibility and nearby towing vessel traffic, and the failure of the Miss Susan captain and the Houston pilot to establish early radio communication with one another. Also contributing to the accident was the failure of Vessel Traffic Service Houston/Galveston to interact with the two vessels in a developing risk of collision, and the lack of a Coast Guard vessel separation policy for the Bolivar Roads Precautionary Area.
Recommendation: TO THE UNITED STATES COAST GUARD: Include in your new towing vessel inspection regulations requirements for (1) availability and use of personal protective equipment, (2) hazardous materials training, and (3) identification and mitigation of health and safety hazards posed by exposure to hazardous materials.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Acceptable Action
Mode: Marine
Location: Galveston, TX, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Accident #: DCA14FM008
Accident Reports: Collision between Bulk Carrier Summer Wind and the Miss Susan Tow
Report #: MAR-15-01
Accident Date: 3/22/2014
Issue Date: 6/18/2015
Date Closed: 2/17/2017
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: USCG (Closed - Acceptable Action)
Keyword(s): Hazmat

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
Date: 2/17/2017
Response: We note that the towing vessel final rule contains general health and safety requirements addressing the availability of personal protective equipment, training, and identification and mitigation of health and safety hazards. Accordingly, Safety Recommendation M 15-1 is classified CLOSED--ACCEPTABLE ACTION.

From: USCG
Date: 10/18/2016
Response: -From Charles W. Ray, Vice Admiral, U.S. Coast Guard, Deputy Commandant for Operations: The Coast Guard published the final rule establishing 46 CFR Subchapter M towing vessel inspection regulations on June 20, 2016. Subchapter M includes general health and safety requirements addressing availability of personal protective equipment, training, and identification and mitigation of health and safety hazards. We consider our actions on this recommendation complete and request that it be closed.

From: NTSB
Date: 3/11/2016
Response: This letter concerns 40 open safety recommendations that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued to the US Coast Guard between 2002 and 2015. For several years, the NTSB received an annual update on all open safety recommendations issued to the Coast Guard; however, for 25 of the 40 recommendations listed, we have received no update in over 2 years regarding the status of action either taken or planned to address these important safety issues. We are interested in knowing whether and how our recommendations are implemented, both to ensure that the traveling public is provided the highest level of safety and to identify creative solutions that might be shared with others. Please respond to this letter electronically at regarding your progress in addressing these safety recommendations, and do not submit both an electronic and a hard copy of the same response. To assist with your response, enclosure (1) is a list of the 40 recommendations highlighting the recommendation number, current status, source of the recommendation, and date of the last Coast Guard update; enclosure (2) is a print-out from our database with the complete correspondence history of each open recommendation.

From: NTSB
Date: 12/7/2015
Response: We note that the ongoing rulemaking project for the inspection of towing vessels (USCG 2006-24412) will address Safety Recommendation M-15-1. Pending incorporation of the standards as recommended and issuance of the final rule, the recommendation is classified OPEN—ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: USCG
Date: 10/19/2015
Response: -From Mark E. Butt, Rear Admiral, USCG, Acting Deputy Commandant for Operations: I concur with this recommendation. We believe the ongoing rulemaking project for the inspection of towing vessels (USCG-2006-24412) addresses the areas of concern the Board raises in this safety recommendation. I will keep the Board informed of our progress on this recommendation.