Fatigue blamed in Kirby ATB grounding in Canada

read between the lines here…

the 2nd mate was standing 6 and 6 watches? carrying a 2nd mate is supposed to mean being on a three watch system! WTF was the master doing? sleeping all day? HANG THE MISERABLE FUCKER!

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Busy operations have the two mates working 6x6 so the captain can be up for all docking and barge operations without going over his 12 hour limit. (I don’t know if this operation warranted that schedule, I’m just saying that sometimes it’s justified.)

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I’m not sure about the current customs in Canada, but a few years ago some of the bigger Canadian tugs had two mates standing 6&6 with the master not standing a regular watch. That frees up the master for departures and arrivals, and to keep an eye on both the Mates in confined passages. That keeps the master pretty busy in BC.

My understanding of Transport Canada regulation is that a lookout in addition to the watch officer is required in confined waters.

The typical American tugboat company and American officers are not familiar with Canadian Rules.

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The article says the mates working schedule was six and six, not the watch schedule. From the report the watch standing schedule was 3 watch-standers. The 2nd mate relieved the master at 2300 hrs.

so what pray tell was the 2nd mate doing when not watchkeeping? cooking? chipping paint? his job was supposed to be keeping a navigation watch and the master should have ensured his mate’s all had plenty of rest by not using them for extraneous duties. EITHER WAY HANG THE MASTER!

GODDAMN EMM EFFING workboat industry. Companies always making the crews as small as they can and use them without mercy without giving them overtime pay! If this was a union operation with OT for more than 8hours of watchkeeping, you’d know full well that 2nd mate would have not been going 6and6. No fatigue then so no accident so Kirby would not have had lost all that money. Can’t these FUCKERS see how their practices are regressive to the point of becoming unsafe?


I don’t know about Kirby, but many of the oil transport companies require the Mates to double as Tankerman. That’s the main reason that they have two mates instead of only one. But by the time they got up to Bella Bella they should have been all rested up from tanking duties.

One of the Seattle oil transportation companies that has the Mates tanking likes to tout how it “Sells Safety” to its clients. What bs.

With all the safety crap (mostly hard hats and paperwork) and vetting involved in oil transport, it’s surprising that there is not more focus on real safety with fully crewed vessels.

What is the day rate for a 5000hp tug and 100,000 bbl oil barge? $25,000 a day? That’s a transport cost of 25 cents per barrel per day, or about a 1/2 cent per gallon. Don’t tell me they cannot afford to put a couple more crewmen onboard.


What are any of the mates on a ship doing as work when not on watch?

So everything that isn’t standing navigation watch is “extraneous duties” now? :joy::joy::joy:

What makes you think this is unique to the Workboat industry? On many ships (I think every amo ship) your day rate is for a 12 hour day, no overtime.

Let’s tell all the unions and ship owners that officers aren’t allowed to do anything except stand navigation watch, c.captain said so!

From the NTSB accident brief:

“The captain and engineers performed day work, while the chief mate and second mate rotated watch 6 hours on followed by 6 hours off. The second mate was assigned to the 1000–1600 and 2200–0400 shifts, and the chief mate to the 1600–2200 and 0400–1000 shifts. Two tankermen rotated on the same schedule as the mates’.”


Are you claiming that supports or debunks my statement?

I’m not claiming anything, just providing a source of factual information.

Personally, I think Kirby manning and management were proven by this accident to be negligent. There is absolutely no excuse for fatigue induced incidents such as this. The fact that the Canadian government and the USCG permit this type of operation while transporting petroleum in such sensitive waters and complex navigational areas is a contributing factor.

It’s the same old story, work too few people too long and this type of thing is inevitable, how many centuries of experience do we need before it ends? How many more studies to obtain the same results … both findings and outcomes - finding the reason for fatigue then ignoring them - do we need before an enlightened government (if such a thing could ever exist) puts a halt to such operations.

That was only at the dock during cargo operations. If you read a little further down the report you come to this:

“Once the vessel was under way, the watch rotation shifted to 4 hours on and 8 hours off, with the navigation responsibility being rotated between the captain, the chief mate, and the second mate.”

There was also an enlightening observation that only the captain and chief mate were approved by Canada to act in lieu of pilots on that route.

If that schedule were fact rather than a paper fiction then fatigue would not have been a factor. Since the mate fell asleep it proves that the operation was unsustainable without creating risk to the crew and the environment. Kirby and the CG of both nations must share the blame for this and all the others to come. There is no mystery that undermanning and coastwise cargo ops are incompatible.

The last ATB that I sailed on had a Captain, CM, 2nd Mate. While in port the 2nd Mate was in charge of the Barge (setting up the load / discharge etc). The CM also worked the barge during cargo, they both worked 6 on 6 off. The two of them then stood 4 on 8 off along with the Captain from Sea Buoy to Sea Buoy.

It was mentioned that if they were standing 4 on 8 off the Mate WOULD NOT have fallen asleep. Well, sorry that does not cut it as I have seen way too many Mates that spend their off watch watching TV or doing anything else besides sleeping!

Now, the Mates do put in a bunch of hours on deck in port when they are either Loading or Discharging Cargo. We were in Port for an average of 24 hours followed by 3 days at Sea. Some vessels had much longer trips that we did.

So, for these days at Sea, the Mates worked 8 hours but still got paid for 12.

Something that’s never mentioned is the Engine crew (thanks to the USCG and not having minimum manning required). We carried a Licensed CE and a Licensed AE. We stood 6 on 6 off for the entire tour. The AE got OT and I was one of the few that made sure that they got the OT for any hours worked. As CE, no OT but we were required to do repairs plus maintenance on the Barge. I can not count the number of 24 hour days of doing repairs to be followed with having to stand a 6 hour watch.

Everytime something happens everyone screams about not having enough Mates, which I can agree with, but when was the last time anyone even thought about the Engineers working the entire port period with no rest but still have to stand their watches so the vessel can sail on time!

Sorry for getting off topic but I thought this should be added to the conversation.


That’s what they were doing on this Kirby tug.

Obviously that’s not true since they WERE working 4 on 8 off.

Aye, but it wasn’t the ERA that put her on the rocks. It never is.

Only after working 6 and 6 performing multiple cargo ops.

That is the point I tried to make when I said “There is no mystery that undermanning and coastwise cargo ops are incompatible.”

so it seems that the two mates were standing 6 and 6 watches underway and in port


That’s what the article says but the report says that the captain was a day worker in port and was in the watch rotation at sea.

But the larger point is that working 6 and 6 during back to back port ops only increases fatigue and adds to the sleep deficit. Changing to 4 and 8 underway does not miraculously cure chronic fatigue.