U.S. Coast Guard Investigating Tugboat Fire

Around 2 a.m. on Tuesday, Mar. 27, a U.S.-flagged tugboat known as the PATRICE MCALLISTER caught fire in Canadian waters on Lake Ontario with six people aboard. Both the U.S. Coast Guard and the Canadian Coast Guard responded to the tugboat fire. A Canadian helicopter transported the vessel’s chief engineer to a hospital in Belleville, Ontario. He was quickly transferred to Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto, where he died the following day from severe burn injuries. The other five crewmembers reportedly received treatment at Kingston General Hospital in Ontario for minor injuries.

The fire, which started in the tugboat’s engine room, is currently under investigation. Because the incident involved a U.S.-flagged vessel in Canadian waters, both U.S. and Canadian officials are looking into it. The U.S. Coast Guard is leading an investigation with the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, and investigations are also being conducted by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada and Transport Canada-Marine Safety. The U.S. Coast Guard has said it “will attempt to identify the cause of the fire and determine if any fire-prevention or protection requirements need to be amended or added to existing regulations for towing vessels.”

With any fire on board a vessel, particularly a fire that results in injury and loss of life, it is imperative to conduct a proper investigation to find out the cause of the fire as well as whether the vessel had the correct safety equipment to fight the fire and the crew had the right training to combat the fire. The employer’s and the vessel owner’s failure to have proper procedures set up for a fire fight and failure to properly train the crew is negligence. If the fire was caused by faulty wire, a faulty fuse or faulty piece of equipment is also negligence, and all of these things create an unseaworthy vessel.

A maritime attorney helps injured seamen and the families of seamen killed on-the-job file claims under unseaworthiness and defective equipment laws, the Jones Act, and other applicable maritime laws. Latti & Anderson LLP has successfully represented crewmembers with burn injuries and recovered $4.5 million for a merchant seaman severely burned on a tanker. We have the experience and expertise to handle claims for injuries arising out of fires on tugs, tankers, passenger ships and fishing vessels.

Were you hurt while working at sea? Contact a Boston maritime attorney today to learn about the compensation to which you may be entitled.

Latti & Anderson LLP –Boston maritime trial lawyers