NTSB cites inadequate navigational assessment before Florida bridge strike

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(WASHINGTON) — An inadequate navigational assessment that did not identify the risk of strong crosscurrents led to a towing vessel and barge striking protective fendering on the Peter P. Cobb Memorial Bridge  near Fort Pierce, Fla., the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said in Marine Accident Brief 21/13 released Thursday.

On Aug. 19, 2020, the towing vessel Old Glory, pushing the loaded barge Cole northbound on the Intracoastal Waterway, struck the protective fendering of the bridge, resulting in $646,000 in damage. There were no injuries.

According to the United States Coast Pilot, there is a strong crosscurrent at the Peter P. Cobb Memorial Bridge. As the tow approached the bridge the relief captain slowed the vessel, which reduced the maneuverability of the tow while the current pushed it outside the channel.

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Old Glory is shown under way in an undated photo. River Ventures LLC/NTSB photo

Towing vessel regulations require the officer of a navigational watch to conduct a navigational assessment, using all resources available, to gather information on conditions that could impact the safety of navigation. Had the relief captain been aware of the Intracoastal Waterway chart cautionary note and information contained in the United States Coast Pilot, he would have been better prepared to address the risk of strong currents often seen near the bridge.

“The Coast Pilot and navigational charts are valuable sources to mariners that contain amplifying information on local conditions such as tides and currents, channel characteristics and bridge descriptions,” the NTSB report said. “It is important to check the Coast Pilot and charts when developing voyage plans to improve knowledge of an area and prepare for a safe passage.”

Click here to read the complete report.

– National Transportation Safety Board

By Professional Mariner Staff