NTSB Report on the Sinking of the Tug Specialist


There is new info coming out all the time regarding fatigue and what it does to the body and brain, latest being that fatigue (related to sleep deprivation) actually destroys certain types of brain cells in a mechanism similar to dementia.

I just finished a hitch with a six on, six off schedule the last week or so, and even that brief stint of sleep disruption was fucking me up enough to make a couple of dimwitted mistakes here and there. 20 hour work days are deadly (as we see in the case of this tug). Never discount fatigue in a casualty analysis. It really is like being drunk


There has been a regular flow of info from fatigue studies since WW2.

Until some politician’s family member is a victim of a fatigue related incident, campaign contributions will continue to win the battle between facts and industry lobbyists.


Not being familiar with the Hudson river I had to get the map put to find out how far it is from Albany to Staten Island, and then I checked out times in the report. I kept reading it and it still does not make much sense to me. The Specialist was berthed in Staten island and it left at 2345 on March 8 picked up the barge and left Jersey City at 0045 on 9th taking 31 hours more or less to tow it up the Albany arriving at 0740 on 10th. Then we get to the important passage - it left Albany for Staten Island at 1325 on 10th, that is 5 hours and 35 minutes later. So it towed the barge 140 odd miles up the river for something to be done to it in five hours and then started back. Perhaps someone with local knowledge could tell me what that is about - or am I missing something?
And by the way I absolutely agreed with everyone’s comments about fatigue. I have worked on ships on a six on six off schedule, but with the odd night in port it was bearable, but I have also worked six on six off for 30 days without a break. It was a killer.


I’m replying to myself. I got it. The barge was contracted to do a lift in Albany, and the tug was contracted to take it there and back.


Close the DAMNED doors…

9 out of 10 of these incidents would be a whole minimized by this advice right here.


While, I am in total agreement with you on closing the Damn Doors! Unfortunately this had nothing to due with this incident! If you watch the video of her hitting that work barge, you will see that her deckhouse was ripped open


The way the tugs were made up to the barge was the first and biggest mistake in my opinion.


I don’t know how applicable my experience is but I was wondering how common that make-up was. I’d expect one tug ahead and one astern with the third made up on the side aft with a single line. The forward tug would have better visibility for one.


When you only have three wheelmen for two of the boats you end up with stupid make ups. The captain of the specialist, the realist, and the owner need to go to jail for this.


That would work, I would have had the tug with the most Hp pushing from the back and the two other tugs on either side of the bow to help push the head end around and steer as needed. Having the two tugs alongside on the stern of the barge isn’t going to help so much trying to steer that barge in current. Of course all of this required good communication between 3 tugs with coherent crews who are not dead tired.


Having two tugs fwd to steer makes sense, for sure the fatigue is going to put a limit on both how well thought out the plan is and on how well the crews can pull it off.