Barge strike due to engine failure

HIGHLANDS – The genius of allowing the placement a busy shipping yard about 100 feet upstream from a bridge that handles much of the incoming traffic to the fourth largest city in the United States and the petrochemical center of the world was not mentioned in the report of the National Transportation Safety Board as to why the I-10 Bridge was struck on Feb. 11.

Instead on that day, according to the report, the Captain of the Linberg Crosby towing vessel was trying to park an empty tank barge at Southwest Shipyard but the towing craft kept going and slammed the barge into a column of the bridge.

The report, however, does make mention of the San Jacinto River being extremely congested and concedes that there was little room for error between the shipyard and the bridge.

The report concludes that a starboard engine failure caused the barge to hit the bridge column. The report seems to indicate that the failure caused a loss of control and a genuine inability to maintain direction.

The Captain had his craft shifted from ahead to neutral at less than 4 miles per hour. Suddenly, he realized he was approaching too fast and threw the engines into reverse. But instead of slowing the vessels turned sideways. He then reports trying to steer the vessels into the craggy shores to stop them. The vessels slipped under the eastbound bridge and smacked the westbound side. The barge kept up its forward progress before coming to a rest.