Photo of tanker Bow Tribute moored after the accident.

​Tanker Bow Tribute moored after the accident. Source: NTSB​

Grounding of Tanker Bow Tribute and Subsequent Contact with River Intake Fender Systems

What Happened

​​On March 16, 2021, about 1522 local time, the tanker Bow Tribute was transiting downbound on the Lower Mississippi River in New Orleans, Louisiana, with 29 persons on board. While attempting to overtake a two-barge tow in a river bend, the vessel grounded on the left descending bank near mile 104 and subsequently struck the fender systems protecting two river intakes owned by the city’s sewerage and water board. [1] No pollution or injuries were reported. Estimated damage to the vessel ($986,400) and the fender systems ($926,100) totaled $1,912,500.

[1] The inland towing industry refers to the shorelines of the Western Rivers as the left and right banks when traveling (facing) downriver: the left bank is called the left descending bank, and the right bank is called the right descending bank.

What We Found

​We determined that the probable cause of the grounding of the tanker Bow Tribute and its subsequent contact with the river intake fender systems was the pilot’s decision to overtake a tow in a large river bend occupied by multiple vessels during high-river conditions with a strong following current. Contributing to the grounding was the ineffective communication between the pilot of the Bow Tribute and the pilot of the towing vessel American Way regarding where the overtaking maneuver would occur.​