NTSB says communication, reporting failures caused fatal barge crash

The National Transportation Safety Board has determined that a fatal head-on crash between barges pushed by two towboats in Louisiana was caused by inadequate communication and a failure to broadcast their total sizes, reports WBRZ.com.

The RC Creppel overturned and sank after the collision with the Cooperative Spirit about 5:30 a.m. on Jan. 26, 2020. Its pilot, captain and one of two crewmen were never found. A second crewman was rescued. The first of two barges pushed by the RC Creppel hit some of the 40 barges pushed by the Cooperative Spirit as they tried to pass each other in a bend of the Mississippi River near Destrehan, said the report released in August.

The agency said neither boat’s pilot had entered the total dimensions of boat and tow into the boat’s automatic identification system, even though earlier NTSB reports have pointed out that it’s important to do so.

Each was broadcasting only the towboat’s size: 69 feet long for the RC Creppel, 200 feet for the Cooperative Spirit. The larger boat’s barges, however, stretched ahead for another 1,400 feet and up to 210 feet across, the report said. That made the total length nearly one-third of a mile. See the entire story.