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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation M-15-002
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 KIRBY INLAND MARINE: Provide direct-reading air monitoring equipment and applicable training to your towing vessel crews that transport hazardous materials, so that crews can identify combustible or explosive atmospheres, oxygen deficiency, and toxic substances that may present risk of serious injury.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Unacceptable Action - No Response Received
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: 5/14/2018
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: Kirby Inland Marine (Closed - Unacceptable Action - No Response Received)
Keyword(s): Hazmat

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: Kirby Inland Marine
Date: 5/14/2018
Response: In the 2½ years since we issued these recommendations, we have not received a substantive reply describing any actions you have taken to satisfy them. After our May 19, 2016, request for an update, we received an e-mail from Ms. Amy Husted, Vice President Legal, on June 13, 2016, saying that the recommendations were not properly received within the company when they were issued, but that Kirby would provide a full description of actions being taken in response. On October 24, 2017, after receiving no further information, we contacted Ms. Husted and again asked for an update. She replied that she would obtain the information and provide it to us. We still have not received any information regarding your actions to satisfy these recommendations since they were issued. Consequently, Safety Recommendations M-15-2 and -3 are classified CLOSED--UNACCEPTABLE ACTION/ NO RESPONSE RECEIVED. Please contact us if you have completed any actions to satisfy these recommendations and we may consider reclassifying them.

From: Kirby Inland Marine
Date: 6/13/2016
Response: -From Amy D. Husted, Vice President, Legal: I was provided a copy of the above referenced letter directed to William Ivey requesting followup information in reference to the NTSB's Safety Recommendations M-15-2 and M-15-3 (file reference NTSB/MAR-15/01. Please be advised that Kirby will provide a full debrief of its actions in response to the Safety Recommendation as requested following this email. In the interim, it appears that the original request for a response was not properly received within the company. I wanted you to be aware of my direct contact as well in the event any further documentation is requested.

From: NTSB
To: Kirby Inland Marine
Date: 5/19/2016
Response: Although we issued these recommendations to you nearly a year ago, we have received no reply from you regarding your actions or intentions to address either Safety Recommendation M-15-2 or -3. Accordingly, we would appreciate receiving a prompt update on your plans and actions to satisfy them. We are interested in knowing whether and how our recommendations are implemented, both to ensure the public the highest level of safety and to identify creative solutions that can be shared with others. Safety Recommendations M-15-2 and 3 are currently classified OPEN—AWAIT RESPONSE; unless we receive a timely reply from you, we may have to classify these recommendations in an unacceptable status. A copy of our June 18, 2015, letter issuing Safety Recommendations M-15-2 and -3 is enclosed. The full report of our investigation of the June 18, 2015, as a result of our investigation of the March 22, 2014, collision between the bulk carrier Summer Wind and the Miss Susan tow, in the Houston Ship Channel, Lower Galveston Bay, Texas, is available at