Open hatches on the deck that has returned of harbor tug resulted in its sinking off the coast of Puerto Rico in 2020, in line with the NTSB. A examination that is post-casualty of vessel revealed that its hatches could not be sealed and that there were numerous penetrations through its watertight bulkheads belowdecks.
The tug that is 1949-built III supplied ship assist services at both Puerto Yabucoa and Laguna de las Mareas, and made the short coastwise voyage between the two ports about 3-11 times per thirty days. She was originally built as an inland towboat and ended up being converted for harbor service with all the addition of a bulwark that is low ranging from 16 inches high amidships to 32 inches at the stern.
On Christmas Eve, 2020, the Proassist III was in Laguna de las Mareas Harbor, providing ship assist services for a merchant vessel. The job finished up at about 1400 hours, and the three-person crew prepared to get method to Puerto Yabucoa. The tug’s first deckhand also served since the engineer, in which he went aft to check up on the water level in one single of the motorboat’s two rudder compartments, the steering rudder compartment. He opened the hatch that is flush-deck the compartment and found that the water level within the bilge was typical for the aging tug’s everyday operations, with about 15 gallons of water.
The vessel got under way for Puerto Yabucoa at about 1420. At about 1500, the tug encountered squalls, with after seas of five to six foot. “That was maybe not our day that is typical by my experience it absolutely was not our typical climate,” the captain told investigators.
The next deckhand noticed that the stern appeared to be “riding a little low. at 1640 hours” Together, the two deckhands checked the tug’s flanking rudder compartment and found three feet of water in the bilge. They informed the captain and presented an emergency pump that is dewatering. Initially the pump worked, but a wave washed on the bulwark, striking the disabling and pump it. Since the climate conditions deteriorated further, the crewmembers retreated to the bridge.
At 1742, the master of the Proassist III decided to abandon ship. A distress was made by him call to your Coast Guard, called the vessel’s owner by cell phone to inform him regarding the situation, and launched the vessel’s inflatable life raft. The raft’s auto-inflation system worked and partially inflated the raft, but it failed to break the sealing straps of the canister. The master would not have knife he returned into the vessel to find one on him to cut the straps, so. As soon as he had located a blade, he jumped into the water next to the canister and cut the straps making sure that the raft could deploy fully.
Before abandoning ship, he attemptedto move the tug closer to shore, since the engines had been nevertheless operating; however, he found that the rudders were jammed to starboard, possibly because flooding in the rudder compartments had shorted out of the charged energy to your steering engines.
A little fishing boat responded to a Coast Guard marine security alert and arrived to the Proassist IIwe’s aid at about 1830 hours. All three crewmembers abandoned ship and had been rescued by the watercraft that is fishing. About 10 minutes later, the Proassist III sank by the stern in 30 feet of water, about 450 yards from the coast.
The postcasualty examination of the vessel revealed that none of the hatches that are flush-deck bolts or dogs to hold them in place. They were gasket that is missing, while the hatch structures were corroded. “Water on deck would have seeped through the hatch seals into the compartments below,” NTSB concluded.
In addition, the agency’s investigators advised that the crew may have departed port with an hatch that is open since the team rarely experienced conditions in which waves washed over the stern. The dive that is post-accident found one hatch removed for the emergency pumping operation, one hatch lid slightly ajar, one upside down, and none secured.
Bulkhead and corrosion penetrations inside Proassist III (NTSB)
When water entered the steering compartments, progressive flooding would have happened through the sufficient penetrations in the bulkheads. As the watertight doors on the deckhouse were gasket that can be lacking and dogs, downflooding would have happened fairly quickly once water reached the deck degree, even when they was sealed. (The dive examination found them available.)
An earlier examination ordered by the tug’s owner found a list of 80 deficiencies which would experienced to be fixed to meet Subchapter M compliance, including difficulties with the tug’s hatches. No evidence ended up being produced by the owner for NTSB why these deficiencies have been corrected. However, the tug’s deadline for compliance with Subchapter M ended up being in 2021, seven months after it transpired.
“The watertight and integrity that is structural in the postcasualty examination of the Proassist III indicate that the vessel was not acceptably maintained,” concluded NTSB. “Additionally, because of the Coast Guard’s focused Inspection Campaign after the casualty, hull and deck integrity issues were identified on three associated with the Proassist III owner’s other vessels, indicating that the organization did not have an effective maintenance program.”
The vessel was declared a loss that is total a price of $968,000.
Corrosion and bulkhead penetrations internally Proassist III (NTSB)