Container Barge Hard Aground in Rosario Strait

Here is a link to the story from the Seattle Times:

The barge is the 322’ St. Elias, owned by Samson Tug & Barge, and was being towed by the tug Henry Brusco of Brusco Tug & Barge. The barge is loaded with misc. container cargo including some navy munitions. They were on a voyage from Alaska to Seattle, with a stop at the Indian Island depot to offload the munitions.

The barge was successfully re-floated and is currently anchored near Ship Harbor, awaiting authorization from the COTP to proceed. No injuries or spills, but the barge has taken on a noticeable list.

Those of you who sail in Puget Sound will be familiar with Belle Rock, which is a clearly marked hazard in the Southern portion of Rosario Strait showing a white light flashing every 2.5s. See chart 18429.

More on this incident later…

A white light that USED to flash every 2.5 seconds.

Given the time of day it happened, this one too smells (initially) like fatigue. As an investigator in these types of accident, I found it helpful to [U]assume[/U] fatigue played a role until proven otherwise.

Can anyone confirm that voyages over 600NM require three licenses in the wheelhouse on tugs. My reading of the CFR and USC seem obvious, but maybe I’m missing something?

Very convoluted answer to (what should be) a direct question.

If the towing vessel is UNDER 200 GT, on a domestic voyage (not subject to another countries manning reqs) only 2 wheelhouse personnel are reqd regardless of length. However, here is where it gets tricky…

If the towing vessel meets ALL three: OVER 200GT on a voyage OVER 600 MILES, OUTSIDE the boundry line, it requires a “three watch system”. If you (the master) gets ‘caught’ sailing with an improper crew you are subject to “up to a 10,000 fine”… Not the company, but the master! The key word here is : if you get caught!"

For more info Google up “Officers Competency Convention 1936”. Also, since you have found the USC you probably already have found this. The key phrase in the OCCA is “on a vessel to which this applies, when operating seaward of the line of demarcation”. Then you have to read the paragraph which refers to all vessels OVER a certain tonnage must be manned xxxxx way. The confusion seems to stem from the CFR manning that states: all vessels over 100 GT must be divided into a three watch system when on a voyage over 600 miles. However, a towing vessel may be divided into two watches.

But, this is trumped by the OCCA if the vessel is OVER 200GT. Confusing, huh?

To further muddy the waters: this is why we have a ‘break point’ at the 200 ton level of licensing.

Under does NOT have to comply with OCCA, and under 100 doesn’t have to comply with STCW

Looking up the Tug Henry Brusco details: 147 GT. She can be manned by a two watch system.