The Coast Guard will hold the final public hearing for the investigation into the January 2006 sinking of the tug Valour, which claimed the lives of three crew members.
Coast Guard marine investigators have recalled the crew of the Valour to obtain statements and finalize the timeline of events leading up to the sinking. Facts collected at this final hearing will be developed into a conclusion to be presented in the Coast Guard's final investigative report.
Coast Guard marine investigators from Marine Safety Unit Savannah and Sector Charleston, S.C., have spent more than a year piecing together the events from the night Valour sank. The Coast Guard held its last public hearing regarding Valour March 1, 2006, in Tampa, Fla.
Valour was towing a fully loaded cargo barge approximately 40-miles east of Wilmington, N.C., when the master of the vessel sounded the tug's general alarm due to a significant port list at about.
The weather off the coast of Wilmington was extreme that night with 30- to-50 knot sustained winds and 70-knot gusts with seas approximately 15- to-20 feet. One crewmember was swept overboard and rescued by a Coast Guard helicopter. Six crewmembers were successfully recovered by the tug Justine Foss, one able-bodied seaman was unable to be retrieved and one passed away soon after being rescued.
The Coast Guard launched an extensive search for the able-bodied seaman covering more than 1,700-square-nautical miles over a period of 16 hours using numerous surface and air assets. This search was not successful. One crewmember is believed to have sunk with the tug.
The Coast Guard's investigation is intended to determine the causes of the accident and obtain information that may prevent or reduce the occurrence of similar incidents.