The following is a marine accident brief from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB):
(WASHINGTON) — On Dec. 14, 2015, about 115 nm north of Cartagena, Colombia, the U.S.-flagged towing vessel Spence listed severely after taking on water. The list increased despite efforts by the crew to correct it. Consequently, the captain activated the vessel’s emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB), and the crew climbed onto the barge that Spence was towing. The towing vessel sank shortly thereafter. U.S. Coast Guard District 7 received the EPIRB alert and directed the Coast Guard cutter Decisive to the scene. On arrival, Decisive rescued the four crewmembers from the drifting barge. Three crewmembers sustained non-life threatening injuries.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the sinking of the towing vessel Spence was gradual flooding from an unknown point of ingress into the aft void space followed by downflooding to the engine room.
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