On January 14, 2020, about 1537 local time, the tanker Bow Fortune was transiting inbound to Galveston, Texas, in the Outer Bar Channel while the uninspected commercial fishing vessel Pappy’s Pride was transiting outbound. The two vessels collided in dense fog, and the fishing vessel capsized and sank. Of the four crewmembers aboard the fishing vessel, there were three fatalities and one serious injury. There were no injuries to the pilot or the crew of 28 on board the Bow Fortune. A surface sheen of diesel was reported. The Pappy’s Pride, valued at $575,000, was declared a total loss.
The probable cause of the collision of the inbound tanker Bow Fortune and the outbound commercial fishing vessel Pappy’s Pride was the captain of the Pappy’s Pride’s outbound course toward the ship channel, which created a close quarters situation in restricted visibility. Contributing was the lack of communication from the captain of the Pappy’s Pride.
Early communication can be an effective measure in averting close quarters situations. The use of VHF radio can help to dispel assumptions and provide operators with the information needed to better assess each vessel’s intentions.