Vessel JOanne Marie before the Flooding

​Joanne Marie before the flooding. (Source Marquette Transportation)

Flooding of Towing Vessel Joanne Marie

What Happened

​On June 25, 2023, about 0600 local time, the inspected towing vessel Joanne Marie was found partially submerged while moored at a shipyard on the Harvey Canal near New Orleans, Louisiana. There were no crewmembers or shipyard workers on board the vessel. An estimated 10 gallons of diesel fuel were released into the water. Damage to the vessel was $176,751. 

What We Found

​We determined that the probable cause of the flooding and partial sinking of the Joanne Marie was the ingress of water into the engine room through a through-hull pipe located near the waterline due to an obstructed spring-loaded check valve on a cofferdam bilge pump discharge. Contributing to the sinking were inadequate procedures for securing unattended vessels.​

Lessons Learned

​Ensuring Oversight of Inactive Vessels

It is good marine practice for owners and operators of towing vessels to assess risks and develop tasks in their towing safety management system (TSMS) for vessels that are unattended or in layup status. TSMS task lists for such vessels should address factors in the configuration of the vessel that could lead to a casualty. To reduce the potential for flooding, operators should consider closing through-hull fitting valves (such as skin valves or seacocks) and tightening packing glands for propulsion shaft seals, or other machinery, as needed. Additionally, conducting periodic rounds of vessel spaces and installing high-water bilge alarms and fire detection systems that remotely alert responsible personnel facilitates the early detection and mitigation of potential safety risks, such as flooding or fire.