The National Transportation Safety Board
(NTSB) issued the report of its investigation into the fatal explosion and fire on an uninspected construction barge on October 12, 2006 on West Cote Blanche Bay, La. The incident resulted from the unexpected release of a mooring spud. Two construction barges were being pushed by a towboat across the bay. One of the raised mooring spuds on one of the barges suddenly dropped (possibly due to a failure of the winch brake mechanism). The spud struck a submerged high-pressure natural gas pipeline
, rupturing the pipeline and causing an explosion and fire that engulfed the towing vessel and both barges. The master and four barge workers were killed, two crewmembers survived, and one crewmember is missing. The NTSB determined that there was no written procedure mandating use of safety devices such as steel pins to secure retracted mooring spuds while the barge was in transit. The agency also expressed concern about the limited oversight of vessels not subject to inspection.
Source: HK Law