NTSB report on Grounding and Sinking of Towing Vessel Eric Haney


New NTSB report on a grounding and sinking of Towing Vessel Eric Haney. Interesting findings, basically the pilot hit a dike. The main reason for this was he was improperly using his ECS, which inland is usually software called Rosepoint. He had the chart scale so large because he was looking at traffic way ahead. Since he had the chart so far scrolled out, he lost relevant details (in this situation, where the dikes in the river were located). Overall, $4.3 million in damages to the vessel mainly due to improper use of this ECS system. This guy had 50 years of experience according to the report.

That’s just bad voyage planning. Why did they not mark the area as a no go area?


No confusion on any scale.

And why does they not have two ECS screens? One for close up and one for looking at traffic way ahead?

How hard is it to zoom in and out.

I would agree that multiple things led to this accident, including poor voyage planning as well as over reliance on an ECS. Its not hard to zoom in or zoom out, I’m assuming if the Captain had 50 years experience, he would be in his 70’s. Most people I know from that generation tend to have issues with technology because they didn’t grow up with computers, so maybe that played a role? Either way, he was zoomed so far out that the dikes didn’t show up - something I’ve seen before inland, just never seen an accident result from it.

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Why do it if you don’t have to?

He zoomed out because he was concerned with traffic and meeting arrangements with southbound vessels (I do this all the time on rosepoint, but I adjust it back). I’m guessing he became too concerned with this, forgot to readjust the rosepoint, and when he was referring to the ECS, his scale wasn’t showing the dikes, so it just showed him 100 feet off the bank and he assumed he was in good water - just my interpretation from the report

Yes and if he had two screens, one screen could be on overview all the time. No need to concern himself with zooming in the map. Plus redundancy is always nice.

Have you read the report?

“Although the pilot indicated that he was not aware of the dikes in the bend and that he did not see them on the ECS, the pilot had previously operated vessels around the accident location. He made a trip on another towing vessel through the same area about a month before and had been through the area in years past. The pilot indicated that, after the towboat grounded, “I thought I was off the bank enough.”
After the accident, investigators viewed a display of the accident area at different levels of detail using a shoreside version of Rose Point ECS. At the 6-mile scale the dikes were removed from the display, but at the 3-mile scale they were visible on the display.”

It wouldn’t have made a difference if he had 5 screens if he ignored the displays.

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WHAT ABOUT RADAR? doesn’t anybody even look at their radars anymore for anything?

young, old makes no difference…people are letting their chart displays lead them into situations they wouldn’t get into if they looked at their radars or better still, looked out of the GODDAMNED windows!

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This is a good point. However, depending on river stages this is not an acceptable way to judge where a dike will be. In high water a dike might not show up on radar or be visible during daylight because it will be submerged where at low water the same dike will show up and be visible. But good point, judging from the photo taken, at least part of the dike should have been visible on radar.

This accident took place at 2342 so it was nighttime and he had a 15 barge tow in front of him. On top of that, they were empties so they would block his line of sight even if it was daylight. I’m gonna say with regulation barges and a towboat of this size, the barges and boat were over 1,000 ft long.

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Yes I did read the report.

Yes and that would not be a problem if he always had a sceen with 3-mile scale or less.

Im not advocating for 5 screens. Im talking about two screens, one screen to help keep track of the close surrounding area of the vessel, and one screen to track vessels up ahead. It’s not an unreasonable setup.

In the report

The pilot indicated in a postaccident statement that he was looking at the ECS display, the
scenery, and the radar as he was navigating through the bend. The pilot also told investigators that
he was using the ECS on a 3-mile scale to better track other vessels and allow himself time to react
to what he saw on the screen.

Investigators noted
that because the accident occurred at night and the dikes were unmarked, they would not have been
visible from the wheelhouse; in addition, they would not have been shown on radar.

I would agree. But then you are assuming the company would provide it. Nothing says that company will provide 2 screens, so you have to work with what you got. I would be interested to know if the Captain in question had access to 2 screens. If he didn’t and he had one, that’s really not his fault then. To be honest, one of the whole things about this report that I can’t wrap my mind around is why the hell was this guy still on a boat in his 70’s. I promise you, if I’m on a boat past 65, I f*cked up financially.

yeah…so what’s your point? lots of men still sailing past retirement age for many reasons

I will not engage with you on this. I was simply stating I found it odd he was in control of such a large tow. The entire point of my post was to help others learn from his mistake.

A tow of 15 barges (5 by 3) is actually pretty typical. The locks on the dams on the Ohio and upper Mississippi are either 600 or 1200 ft in length. A 15 barge tow will go through a 1200’ lock in 1 shot. On the shorter locks the tow is split and gone through in 2 parts.

On the lower Mississippi where there aren’t any dams to contend with I have seen tows twice that size.

Face it, we all “lose a step” as we get older. Airline pilots are required to retire at 65 I think. There’s a good reason for that.

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Don’t be obtuse. No one did. I used 5 to make a point, which was that his mind was focused on traffic ahead and not obstructions nearby. And I agree that it’s harder to multi-task past a certain age and easy to become complacent.

“Yes and that would not be a problem if he always had a sceen with 3-mile scale or less”.

Per the report: The pilot had set the ECS at a 3-mile scale". Tests showed the dykes were visible at that range.

If the way people actually perceive information is taken into account it’s hard to see how two screens wouldn’t be better.

The optimum situation would be with one screen set at say, 3 miles and is dedicated to watching traffic and the second screen is set on say 1/2 mile to watch the relationship between the boat and the bank and other hazards.

One problem with a single screen is that the pilot has to realize that there is a miss-match between his perception and what is actually happening and make an active effort to collect more information. With two screens there is a much higher probability that the miss-match will be spotted even without seeking out additional information.

The pilot doesn’t have to realize something is wrong first, he’s likely to see it regardless if he thinks he needs it or not.


There’s no question that 2 screens at different zoom levels would be better than one that has to be changed back and forth. Given the congested area they were in with only one unit, maybe a mate or AB would have helped by doing the button pushing and providing information while the pilot concentrated on steering…
There’s no mention of anyone else in the wheelhouse with the pilot per the report.