NTSB cites pilot's unfamiliarity with electronic throttles for fatal tug accident

The following is a marine accident brief from the National Transportation Safety Board:

Accident summary

On July 3, 2013, at 0558 local time, the uninspected towing vessel Megan McB lost engine throttle control while the crew was trying to maneuver the vessel into the main lock of Lock and Dam 7 on the Mississippi River near La Crescent, Minn. Without engine throttle control to maneuver the vessel, the strong river current swept the Megan McB into gate No. 1 of the dam, where the vessel became pinned and capsized. One crewmember died in the accident. The vessel was later refloated; its damage was estimated at $500,000.

Probable cause

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the capsizing of towing vessel Megan McB was the replacement pilot's unfamiliarity with the vessel's electronic engine control throttles, which resulted in his inability to avoid gate No. 1 of Lock and Dam 7. Contributing to the capsizing was Brennan Marine's lack of effective procedures to ensure that the Megan McB was operated by a replacement pilot familiar with the electronic engine control throttles, which were unique to this one vessel in the company fleet.

To view the complete report, click here.

By Professional Mariner Staff