Boston Maritime Trial Lawyers Examine BNWAS Mandate

A recent Professional Mariner story discussing the Bridge Navigational Watch Alarm System (BNWAS) mandate began by recalling the so-called “I-40 Disaster” that occurred southeast of Webbers Falls, Oklahoma, on the Arkansas River in May 2002. After towboat captain Joe Dedmon lost consciousness due to a heart-rhythm episode, the ROBERT Y. LOVE continued traveling unattended for almost five minutes before crashing into the Interstate 40 bridge. The collision knocked down a 503-foot section of the structure, 11 vehicles on the highway plunged into the water and 14 people died.

According to Professional Mariner, that crash and the 2003 Staten Island ferry accident in which 11 people died after an assistant pilot lost consciousness were two incidents that prompted regulators in the United States and other countries to “propose requiring electronic motion- and thermal-detecting warning systems that would sound alarms in the absence of activity at a vessel’s bridge controls.” As the BNWAS mandate has started to take effect for large ships worldwide, numerous electronics manufacturers have designed BNWAS equipment tailored to large and small vessels.

“Many accidents were happening either because the operators were incapacitated or something happened when they either were asleep or they had a heart attack in some cases,” Furuno USA product manager Bill Haynes told Professional Mariner. “This makes sure that someone is up and available on the bridge so the vessel isn’t underway and steaming through a hazard or a situation where a lot of people could be hurt.”

Latti & Anderson LLP represents injured maritime workers and the families of seamen killed on the job, and some of the several multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements we have obtained for clients. In the collision of the F/V STARBOUND and the tanker VIRGO, in which we represented the Estate of one of the deceased fisherman,  negligence focused on the fact that from the evidence, it appeared that no one was in the pilot house at the time of the collision.   Electronic motion- and thermal-detecting warning systems that would sound alarms in the absence of activity at a vessel’s bridge controls could help prevent many collisions, allisions, deaths and injuries that have occurred over the years.

If you sustained serious injuries or your loved one died in a maritime accident, contact our firm at (800) 392-6072 to schedule a free consultation or enter your information in the form on this page to let our Boston maritime trial lawyers review your case.

Latti & Anderson LLP – Boston maritime attorneys