Master Mariner Discusses Nine Common Towing Vessel Deficiencies

Captain Peter Squicciarini, a licensed master mariner and marine safety specialist whose resume includes working as a safety manager for an East Coast tug and barge company, recently contributed an article to the marine industry website containing a list of nine common towing vessel deficiencies. He said the Towing Vessel National Center of Expertise (TVNCOE) provided him with some the deficiencies that were identified during US Coast Guard voluntary towing vessel examinations over the past five years. Six of the categories he touched on included:

  • Firefighting — “Firefighting has been in the top slot just about every year running,” Squicciarini said. It is a particularly timely concern considering the recent tug fires in California and Louisiana. The category primarily deals with detection and alarm systems, remote fuel shut-offs, fire pumps, hoses, portable fire extinguishers and inability to isolate the engine room.
  • Navigation — Squicciarini this commonly includes navigation lights, day shapes, charts and occasional problems with radars.
  • Communications — Citations in this area included general alarm issues, inoperative radios and out-of-date registrations on emergency position indicating radio beacons (EPIRBs), as well as expired batteries and hydrostatic releases.
  • Engineering/Hull — Squicciarini noted many items that concern worker safety, including missing guards for exposed hazards, leaking service system valves or piping, exposed hot surfaces that could ignite flammables and compromised watertight integrity—especially bad hatches—was “seen more than you’d expect.”
  • Lifesaving — Some boats either did not have enough or had the wrong types of lifejackets.
  • Electrical — This category includes switchboard hazards, wiring issues, oversized fuses, and inoperative or absence of emergency lighting in addition to other items.

Many of the items that Squicciarini discussed are standard maintenance issues that a shipowner has an obligation to recognize, but failure to do so can endanger maritime workers. We have more information about tug and barge accidents on our website.

Recently, Latti & Anderson LLP obtained a $2.25 million for a deckhand working for McAllister Towing who received an electrical shock when shutting off a circuit breaker in an electrical panel.  The crew member was ordered to shut off the circuit breaker despite an electrical fire occurring in the breaker several minutes prior.  The negligence and unseaworthiness in the case focused on the failure of McAllister Towing to properly upkeep and maintain the 30 year plus old circuit breaker and the negligence in the the fleet engineer ordering the Plaintiff to shut off a circuit that had just experienced a catastrophic failure of an electrical fire.

If you sustained serious injuries or your loved one was killed while working, you could be entitled to compensation under the Jones Act and other federal maritime laws. Latti & Anderson LLP has been representing injured seamen and their families for more than 50 years, and you can use the form on this page to let our Boston maritime trial lawyers review your case or you can contact our firm at (800) 392-6072 to set up a free initial consultation.

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