Susan K after the contact.

​ Susan K after the contact. ​

Contact of Susan K Tow with Natchez-Vidalia Bridge

What Happened

​​On April 23, 2023, about 2242 local time, the towing vessel Susan K was pushing 25 barges downbound on the Lower Mississippi River when the tow struck the center bridge pier on the Natchez-Vidalia Bridge, which connects the cities of Natchez, Mississippi, and Vidalia, Louisiana. One barge sank, and two other barges were damaged; the Susan K was undamaged. No pollution or injuries were reported. Damage to the barges and cargo was estimated at $2 million.  

What We Found

​We determined that the probable cause of the contact of the Susan K tow with the Natchez-Vidalia Bridge was the captain’s complacency, which resulted in his inattention to the tow’s position as it approached the bridge.​

Lessons Learned

​​Fighting Complacency

Repetition and monotony can cause even the most experienced and skilled mariner to become complacent and lose situational awareness. Developing strategies that help maintain focus is a good practice. These strategies may include continuous scanning of instruments and surroundings outside the wheelhouse, strict adherence to procedures, eliminating distractions, changing position or moving (standing up or walking around), and getting enough sleep and exercise.