Tugboat sinks at Seattle dock


Ahh the Irony!

Environmental response Tugboat sinks at dock.


One of the commenters about half way down says he was there. Here’s his account:

I was there last night when it happened. I saw it all go down. I work on a bunker barge and actual tug boat. The boat that sank was 36’ long, an Oil Spill Response Vessel, not a tug boat. The wind was calm and the water at terminal five was almost perfectly flat, although it was raining heavily.

The driver of the OSRV was an exceptionally timid boat handler, and the rope with which he was towing the oil boom wrapped around his propeller. He opened the hatch in the stern deck to reach down and cut the tangle. Apparently this hatch also leads to the miniature engine room beneath the after deck.

While the weather was perfectly benign, the after deck of the OSRV is very low to the water, and a small, ity bity little wave did wash into the open hatch and into the engine room. With so little freeboard, the boat had practically no reserve stability or buoyancy, and progressively increasing flooding resulted.

The timid driver jumped/fell into the water when the boat upended and twisted on its longitudinal axis. From my perspective, it looked as though the boat rolled right onto him, but his partner in the skiff said it missed him by inches.

We were casting off our barge, having finished bunkering the Westwood Rainier, so we had to tie it back up in order to use our actual tug boat to rescue the timid driver. He and his partner were on board our boat for a couple hours while we waited for their co-workers to retrieve them and the one boat that was still floating. The timid driver had a minor cut on the inside of his left forearm and refused medical treatment from us on the boat. He was also shivering, though we provided him with warm dry clothes, and dried his wet clothes in our dryer.

Indeed, a chain of events proceeded unbroken which led to this minor marine casualty. Had proper risk assessment been adequately performed, the chain of events may have been broken. This sinking was the direct result of poor boat handling and a series of poor decisions stacked one upon another.


When I first read this story, I could not fathom how the hell a tugboat could be swamped at a dock like this. So I went to the site of the USCG to search for the “Sea Born”. I found no vessel described as a tug; I then went to the NRC Environmental Services site which led me to SEACOR Environmental Products, LLC and then I went to their “Vessels” navigation on the left side of their home page. As CMA_Decky aptly pointed out this is far from a Tug!

I took a screenshot of what this vessel is and have attached it. It still boggles my mind how this happened. More than likely she was tied incorrectly but I will leave this “WTF” happened to brighter minds than me.


[quote=CMA_Decky;21566]One of the commenters about half way down says he was there. Here’s his account:

… I work on a bunker barge and actual tug boat… and the [B]rope[/B] with which he was towing… [/quote]

Do “actual tugboats” call what they tow with a “rope”?


I have heard of them referred to in some parts as “tow ropes” but it is kinda weird.


I was taught that there were 2 ropes. Bell ropes and gob ropes. Everything else is a line.


That caused a bit of a rabble on the other commments also. The poster said that he said “rope” so that everyone would understand.


He was taking into consideration that the general public wouldn’t understand?

Good thinking, when I tell friends that aren’t in the business, about lines, they usually think of fishing line first…I gotta find some new friends…:cool:


I was taught that it’s a rope when it is on the spool. It is a line when you’ve cut it off the spool and put it to use.


Doug - That is what I was taught, too.


If you come from some vessels you can also have Boltropes, Manropes and Footropes.


Very true, you see it all the time on pilot ladders “No Manropes”.


A “hawser” is also a viable term in the towing field.