Crane Barge Capsizes and Sinks Due to Neglected Hull Inspection and Maintenance

The towing vessel Karen Koby and crane barge Ambition are pictured before the capsizing and sinking. Source: LA Carriers and Rigid Constructors via NTSB
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The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has determined that the capsizing and sinking of the crane ship, Ambition, in the Gulf of Mexico was caused by the ship owner’s negligence in inspecting and maintaining the ship’s hull. The incident occurred on June 15, 2022, and resulted in the release of approximately 1,980 gallons of oil. Fortunately, no injuries were reported, but the total damage is estimated to be $6.3 million.

Prior to the departure of the Ambition, a deckhand had noted several issues with the ship, including missing hatch cover gaskets, unlocked covers, and visible hull damage. During the investigation, a 25-foot separation was discovered in the weld between the bilge joint and the floor panels, leading to initial flooding. The NTSB found that the poor condition of the hull was a result of the owner’s failure to make necessary repairs.

The NTSB emphasized the importance of regular hull inspections and maintenance as a standard practice for ship owners in order to protect the environment and ensure ship safety. The report highlights the need for proactive maintenance and hull inspection programs to address potential issues and correct corrosion problems in a timely manner. The Marine Investigation Report 23-18 can be accessed on the NTSB website for further details.

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