Crew fatalities and accidents in the US towing vessel sector improved slightly in 2014, according to the most recent government data.
In a report covering towing industry safety from 1994-2014, the US Coast Guard (USCG) revealed that there were four crew fatalities in 2014, the lowest number on record. Three of the deaths were the result of crewmembers falling into the water. The fourth was a result of a crane barge striking a bridge, which caused the crane to collapse on the pilothouse of the vessel.
Towing vessel accidents, which include all reportable marine casualties that involved any towing vessel or barge, dropped 3% to 1,797 in 2014 compared with 2013.
The USCG reported that in 2014, 89% of towing vessel casualties were of the “low” severity type, with “medium” and “high” severity representing 7% and 4%, respectively, of all accidents.
The number of total incidents in 2014 was still 28% above the 1,401 accidents reported in 2005, the lowest point between 2004 and 2014.
Agency data also revealed that the oil spill rate from tank barge oil spills increased from 0.23 (gallons of oil spilled per million gallons transported) in 2013 to a projected 2.68 in 2014. However, with the amount of oil transported by barge increasing 7.6% from 2012 to 2013, the 2014 spill rate “is still very low given the number of volume transported”, the USCG pointed out.
In addition, just two marine casualties are responsible for 99% of the total volume spilled in 2014, the coastguard noted.