Crewmember fatigue stemming from a crew shortage was largely to blame for a tugboat accident in the Hudson River just north of New York City last year that left three people dead.
National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigators found the Specialist tugboat sank almost instantly after crashing into a construction barge March 12, 2016, near where construction workers are building the new Tappan Zee Bridge.
All three men aboard the Specialist tugboat, owned by New York Marine Transport, died. They were identified as Paul Amon, 62, of Bayville, New Jersey; Timothy Conklin, 29, of Westbury, New York; and Harry Hernandez, 56, of Staten Island, New York.
NTSB investigators concluded “the probable cause of the collision and sinking of the Specialist was inadequate manning, resulting in fatigued crew members navigating three tugboats with obstructed visibility due to the size of the crane on the barge they were towing and the location of the tugboats alongside the barge.”
According to the NTSB’s report, crewmembers had received no more than four to five hours of uninterrupted sleep in the three days leading to the incident, with bad weather and strong currents keeping them awake.
According to WorkBoat, “Amon, who was piloting the tug, initially jumped to the deck of the construction barge, but went back onto the Specialist in an attempt to rescue one of his deckhands, NTSB investigators wrote, affirming witness accounts of the … accident.”
Statements from construction workers who witnessed the accident recounted that “the mate returned to the tugboat to attempt to help a deckhand who was trapped inside and calling for help.”
“The Specialist took on water through open doors and rapidly sank with the mate and two deckhands aboard. After the vessel sank, several workers from the construction barge saw the mate in the water, being swept away by the current,” the NTSB report said citing witnesses.