The NTSB released the results of its investigation into the fatal collision between the tanker Bow Fortune and the fishing vessel Grandpa’s pride near Galveston last year. The agency concluded that the captain of the Grandpa’s pride did not respond to warning signals and VHF calls from Bow Fortune,
In the afternoon of January 14, 2020, the oil tanker Fortune Arc was heading for the port of Galveston, Texas. The conditions outside the channel entrance were foggy, but the pilot reported that visibility was clear in the harbor, and he and the master decided to continue. With a lookout posted on the bow and the foghorn lit, they set out in the Outer Bar channel at around 1508 hours.
Meanwhile, the Grandpa’s pride was departing and heading for the sea. Visibility was poor, estimated at a few hundred meters. At 3:34 p.m., he left an anchorage and approached the navigation channel from the north, on a route that would cross Bow Fortune bow.
AIS reconstruction (NTSB)
At 1535, Bow Fortune the pilot greeted Grandpa’s pride on VHF, veered to starboard to avoid the collision and slowed to mid-height. A minute later, he sounded five short blasts on the horn and ordered multiple evasive maneuvers. He hailed the fishing boat again.
In 1537, Grandpa’s pride was only 350 yards ahead and was approaching quickly. The pilot rang five courts a second time, hailed the vessel on VHF a third time, and ordered all to stop. The bow of the tanker struck the fishing vessel seconds later, capsizing and sinking the Pappy’s Pride.
A surviving Pappy’s Pride deckhand was removed from the water by the pilot boat Yellow Rose, and the remains of a second deckhand were recovered by a USCG response boat. The bodies of the other two crew members were recovered when the wreckage was lifted on January 30.
The NTSB noted that Pappy’s Pride had several tools on board to avoid collisions, including a functioning VHF radio, ARPA, AIS, and electronic card system, but it did not appear to respond to Bow Fortune’s presence. or the pilot’s attempts to communicate. The captain of the fishing vessel was in the know during the transit, and the vessel’s AIS track suggested that it was actively steering in the minutes leading up to the accident – but he took no evasive action or reacted.
“It is possible that the captain [of Pappy’s Pride] was away from the conn, was distracted, fell asleep, was not sure what action to take or was unable to respond to the developing situation, ”the NTSB concluded. “Communication, especially in limited visibility, is an essential effective watch. In addition, the route out of Pappy’s Pride created a close-quarters situation which resulted in the collision. “
The NTSB noted that the captain’s failure to slow down or respond could have been due to a medical event. Investigators found that he had had a minor stroke three weeks before the injured trip and had been hospitalized for three days before his condition improved.