Bouchard B-255 USCG Hearing


From gcaptain: Bouchard Barge No. 255 Hearing: ‘I Was Hearing Blasts Every Second’

Timothy Lerette, the tugboat’s assistant engineer, testified on Tuesday that he had talked to Jackson about the barge’s problems. Lerette said Jackson told him that he had requested repairs be made on the barge and that “Donohue” told him that “he’s going to regret it.”

Kevin Donohue, Bouchard vice president for safety and vetting, is scheduled to testify on Thursday.


Coincidence or sweet irony that I got my monthly edition of Maritime Reporter today and there was a special insert just for Bouchards 100th anniversary?

I’m not a tug boat mariner, but one company that I’ve rarely heard a kind word about has been this one.


I can honestly say that in my few years at Bouchard, there were multiple times where I almost stepped off the boat because I was scared for my life. I saw some of the tankerman do the sketchiest stuff I’ve ever seen in my career. I left for one reason, and that was because I never felt safe, starting all the way at the top with upper mngmt.


About 3 years ago a recruiter called me as I was looking to get out of the shoreside role at the OSV company I was working for. Things were declining and I needed to get out before being laid off. The recruiter told me about the position and I honestly knew little to nothing about Bouchard. He said I’m going to be honest, you can almost name your price because they literally can’t keep employees in the office. And he warned me that it’s not uncommon to get fired and called back soon after and offered more money to come back.

An old boss of mine went to Bouchard for a shoreside sometime back and didn’t last 6 months before leaving. It’s a shame a company such as that one can’t run an honest and decent organization.


Some interesting entries from former disgruntled employees.

I watched the assistant engineers testimony and something that stuck out to me was his mention that every time he stepped on the vessel there was a new face, as in consistent high turnover. I’ve heard the office is just as bad if not worse. NOT something I look for in a company. The assistant engineer also said he found out he was “fired” by checking his Fidelity 401k and it said he was no longer an employee. The USCG then asked “So nobody ever called to notify you were fired?”. He replied No. That’s just weird.


Sorry. I just couldn’t help myself


gCaptain -Bouchard Oil Barge Explosion Hearing: Conflicting Testimony and Disputed Phone Calls

Jackson claimed Donohue told him that reporting the problems had been “a mistake,” implying he could lose his job, Lerette testified.

Donohue was scheduled to testify Thursday, July 19, but did not appear.


I have worked on the Bouchard vessels for 10 years as a ship superintendent in a shipyard, maintenance and repairs are dirty words to the owners.


Did anyone else have trouble watching day 5? The video didn’t work for me. This company is shit. USCG needs to make an example.


Im guessing you might be inTampa then. I know that B295/Bouchard Girls has been there in Tampa for almost a year. Any idea when that unit might sail?


The Coast Guard, Texas General Land Office and Bouchard Transportation representatives continue to respond to a barge that caught fire Friday morning three miles off the jetties of Port Aransas, Texas on Oct. 21, 2017. U.S. Coast Guard photo by courtesy asset.

Bouchard Barge Hearing: Former Bouchard VP “Shocked” at Condition of Barge 255

Garry, who was a Coast Guard inspector and investigator before he went to work for Bouchard, said the barge also had been in dry dock not long before the explosion.


The guy testifying this morning must be a Whistleblower as Bouchard’s Lawyer overstepped overstepped his line of questioning and the CG Shutdown the hearing once again.

Bouchard’s Lawyers seem to keep forgetting that they are not in a court of law and they seem to be trying to piss the CG off, which is never a good idea!

Anyone that ever had any dealings with Bouchard, knows how they operate and it’s been that way through 3 generations!


I think when the hearings are over, Bouchard will get hammered. I don’t think they are this “evil company” that they are being made out to be. Yes the turnover seems to be a recurring situation, management is “colorful”, but they do invest heavily into equipment, and their safety management system. They were one of the first to adopt a safety management systems on tugs, when they had SAFENET, now NS5 or NSEnterprise. Their ATB’s are some of the best in the towing industry, and very capable of towing when needed. I also have personally witnessed Morty threaten to fire several office people over not providing office support to a tugboat that was needing an engine part. That occured during one of the annual safety meetings in which the company brought up a captain, chief engineer, and a barge captain, to be involved.

Competition for oil contracts is also part of the blame. There are many tug/barge operators, but very few oil contracts. Turning a somewhat blind eye to safety, isn’t just allegedly Bouchard…it’s rampant within the marine industry.
The Coast Guard, in my opinion, is also partially to blame. Instead of having licensed officers in charge of 2 to 7 million gallon flammable and dangerous cargo transfers, safety, and maintenance of equipment… The Coast Guard thinks it’s acceptable to have a mariner who is one step above entry level (Able Seaman), and one lateral move for an additional PIC endorsement. Basic Fire Fighting, 10 loads/discharges, and a 40 hour PIC class which focuses on threshold limit values and such, isn’t enough these days. The tankermen are given fictitious titles “barge captains”, and now they are on these barges transferring dangerous cargoes, maintaining as much equipment as a licensed engineer on the tugs, as well as other duties. There is no real formal training program and they lack the education to carry out these duties.

There are many changes needed to the towing industry. The recent safety changes seem to focus on properly filling out forms, and documents…rather than actual operation and safety. Mariners also need to decide on whether losing a job is more important than risking their licenses or lives.


As they should. I personally think Bouchard should be forced to sell.

Turnover is terrible, I’ve spoken to someone who applied there, got a phone call that he was hired, all he needed to do was visit the drs office for a physical. After asking, I don’t need to come in to the office? the response was No, Just do your drs visit/drug test/physical and then vessel. NO ONE in the office cared to even see this person who would be working in THEIR company, NEXT to people they knew, ON their equipment… let alone meet the guy and ask him a couple questions before he got on a vessel. That is fucking scary, every company I’ve worked for would at least make the applicant visit this office. I know personally this happened when the turnover in the HR department was undergoing constant turnover. So how can you blame the HR department if they guy/gal doing the hiring is fired or quits every 3 months??

THIS IS TERRIBLE! Apparently EVERYBODY in the company is job scared, this guy has a created a culture of fear, and everyone is scared they are going to be fired - that isn’t healthy. Read the testimonies man, the vessel side was threatened for trying to report an unsafe issue. They have testimony from the Mate on watch at time of the explosion saying that people within the company wouldn’t fill our near miss reports because they were scared of the offices reaction. The fact that you are even half way trying to support that makes me believe you don’t give one shit about us mariners.

Nope. Maybe if the owner of a company allows it. Exxon for example requires 50 documented transfers before you can even sign a DOI, so those contracts you were talking about, the good companies like Exxon require you to go above and beyond. One of the companies I worked for had a wonderful tankerman trainee program. They had a “shoretanking” division, Shore tankerman do about 300 transfers a year as they work an “on call” schedule (When I was a vessel tankerman, I would do as little as 10 and as many as maybe 60 transfers a year) After you got your Tankerman PIC license, this company would then make you do a MINIMUM of 10 extra transfers with these very experienced shore tankerman, each one documenting and saying whether this trainee needed work and on what. Some guys would work as a trainee with the shore tankerman for as long as 6-9 months. After THAT, you had a load AND discharge final (whole way through) with the head of the Tankerman, this being one of several port captains. At this point, you became a “tankerman trainee”, most companies have 3 levels of tankerman after that, with a jump in pay grade for each “level” you graduate from and with Captains endorsements. Barge Captain would be a level after that, so I would say at minimum, a Barge Captain should have 5 years minimum before he or she should even be considered. As a tankerman “trainee” you are still very much on internship and are watched more closely by Captains, than say a guy with 3 years experience.Every decision being made above has had absolutely nothing to do with USCG, it was 100% the companies choice. However, I do believe the USCG could/should be stricter requirements and mainly that would be so that companies like Bouchard can’t put a guy in charge who a)is scared to report issues and b) is inexperienced.


I agree, I made 2 trips as Chief and I had enough their reputation as the worst company in the Industry proceeds them


“Colorful” don’t believe I’ve heard thst one to describe Morty!


Without calling Donahue or Shaw this is starting to look like window dressing. May see a whitewash of whole procedure. If they need additional days why not use them, isn’t this issue worth it. Fine and short term monitoring is a joke. It didn’t work last time. Incidentally Morty is in court today in NY for a lawsuit against him from multiple ex office employees.


There is an open spot on the schedule for Friday morning. I would expect Donahue to be called then.


I would not. I think this a done deal.


When this is all over, Nichols, York and Franks will have to go back and look in the faces of their new crewmates and know that all know what they have done to save their job. The job that they will be fired from as soon as they are no longer needed by the company.