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Board Meeting - Marine Accident Report – Collision of Tankship Eagle Otome with Cargo Vessel Gull Arrow and subsequent collision with the Dixie Vengeance towboat in the Sabine-Neches Canal in Port Arthur, Texas, January 23, 2010 - Chairman's remarks
Deborah A. P. Hersman
National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), Collision of Tankship Eagle Otome with Cargo Vessel Gull Arrow and subsequent collision with the Dixie Vengeance towboat in Port Arthur, Texas, January 23, 2010, Washington, DC
9/27/2011

I want to thank my fellow Board members for their participation today.

In closing, I want to recognize the outstanding efforts of the NTSB staff members who completed this accident investigation and developed this thorough and excellent report - in particular, the staff from the Office of Marine Safety and from the Office of Research and Engineering. Investigator-in-Charge Rob Jones and his team did an outstanding job.

You have heard the probable cause and the recommendations. There are several areas to pursue to improve safety on our waterways. Perhaps the greatest lesson to draw from this accident is that there are guidelines and procedures for a reason. Standard operating procedures are intended to increase the margin of safety, offset human error, and prevent accidents. At the time of this accident, the Sabine Pilots Association had guidelines in place for operating in this tricky stretch of waterway, but they were not followed. However, guidelines cannot help prevent accidents if they are not followed.

The NTSB has long been concerned about fatigue in the marine industry, and this accident highlights the very real consequences of degraded performance. It is important that individuals - and transportation organizations - take responsibility for managing fatigue. This is why we are recommending that the Jefferson and Orange County Board of Pilot Commissioners develop and implement a fatigue mitigation and prevention program and that the governors of all states require their local pilot oversight organizations to do the same.

It's been said that "a ship in harbor is safe, but that's not what ships are built for." We understand that ships are designed for commerce, but they must also build safety into their operations. The recommendations we issued today offer the opportunity to do just that.

We stand adjourned.