NTSB Determines Faults Leading to Fatal Collision

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

May 16, 2016

In examining the deadly collision of tugboat/barge Caribbean Sea/The Resource with Amphibious Passenger Vehicle DUKW 34, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has determined that several faults played a part in the collision.
On Wednesday, July 7, 2010, the empty 250-foot-long sludge barge The Resource, being towed alongside the 78.9-foot-long tugboat Caribbean Sea, collided with the anchored 33-foot-long amphibious passenger vehicle DUKW 34 in the Delaware River at Philadelphia, Penn.
On board the DUKW 34 were 35 passengers and two crewmembers, while on board the Caribbean Sea were five crewmembers.
As a result of the collision, DUKW 34 sank in about 55 feet of water, leading to the deaths of two passengers, minor injuries for 26 passengers and $130,470 in damage to the passenger vessel. No one on the Caribbean Sea was injured, and Damage to the barge was minimal; no repairs were made.
NTSB has determined that the probable cause of this accident was the failure of the mate of the Caribbean Sea to maintain a proper lookout due to (1) his decision to operate the vessel from the lower wheelhouse, which was contrary to expectations and to prudent seamanship, and (2) distraction and inattentiveness as a result of his repeated personal use of his cell phone and company laptop computer while he was solely responsible for navigating the vessel.
Also contributing to the accident was the failure of Ride The Ducks International maintenance personnel to ensure that DUKW 34’s surge tank pressure cap was securely in place before allowing the vehicle to return to passenger service on the morning of the accident, and the failure of the DUKW 34 master to take actions appropriate to the risk of anchoring his vessel in an active navigation channel.
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