US NTSB report says towboat sinking due to captain continuing operations with hull breach

San Francisco: The US National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) report on Friday about the sinking of a towboat on the Upper Mississippi River found the probable cause to be the captain’s decision to continue operations with a known hull breach in the vicinity of the vessel’s waterline.

Osage Marine Service’s towing vessel Jim Marko sank on July 1 near St. Louis, Missouri.

The report noted that the rapid sinking was made worse by a lack of watertight integrity due to watertight doors on the main deck being left open while under way.

No one was injured in the accident but an undetermined amount of oil was released into the river. The sinking resulted in damage exceeding the insured value of the vessel. Rather than repair the damaged vessel, Osage Marine Services of St Louis, Missouri, sold it.

According to the report a deckhand noticed a hole on the 1976-built Jim Marko‘s starboard side below the rub rail and about 3 feet aft of the turn of the bow. The captain, who was operating the vessel at that time, asked the mate to photograph the hole with his cellphone so that he could see it. The captain looked at the photo, told the mate he would report the hole to the company, and continued operations.

Donal Scully

With 28 years experience writing and editing for newspapers in the UK and Hong Kong, Donal is now based in California from where he covers the Americas for Splash as well as ensuring the site is loaded through the Western Hemisphere timezone.
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