Coast Guard Concludes Final Public Hearing for Tug Valour

SAVANNAH, Ga. – The Coast Guard has concluded it final public hearing this afternoon regarding the sinking of the tug Valour, a 125-foot tug that sank approximately 40-miles east of Wilmington, N.C. Jan. 18, 2006.

Coast Guard investigators recalled the crew of the Valour to testify one last time before the investigators submit their findings to Coast Guard District Seven Command in Miami and Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington for review. Facts collected at this final hearing will be developed into a conclusion to be presented in the Coast Guard’s final investigative report.

Investigators focused their questioning for the six crewmen in three major areas: training, survival equipment and the procedures regarding ballast tanks. The Coast Guard called this hearing to clarify certain issues in each of these areas.

It was also released in the public hearing that the Coast Guard Marine Safety Center in Washington and engineers with Over Seas Shipholding Group, Inc., the owners of the tug Valour, believe that Valour couldn’t have sank with out water being present in the engine room.

The mood throughout the hearing was very emotional as the crewmen recalled the chaotic events that unfolded that January night. The widows of Richard H. Smoot, 50, of Southpoint, Ohio, and Ronald L. Emory, 56, of Milford, Del., were in the hearing and wept as the crewmen testified about the deaths of their husbands.

The Coast Guard’s investigation is intended to determine the causes of the accident and obtain information that may prevent or reduce the occurrence of similar incidents.

Lt. Cmdr. Charles Barbee from Marine Safety Unit Savannah has led a team of investigators working to assemble the deadly puzzle of events that led up to the tug Valour sinking 40-miles east of Wilmington, N.C. Barbee and two other Coast Guard officers have worked for over a year to piece that night's events back together. Coast Guard photograph by PA1 Donnie Brzuska.

Lt. Cmdr. Charles Barbee from Marine Safety Unit Savannah has led a team of investigators working to assemble the deadly puzzle of events that led up to the tug Valour sinking 40-miles east of Wilmington, N.C. Barbee and two other Coast Guard officers have worked for over a year to piece that night’s events back together.
Coast Guard photograph by PA1 Donnie Brzuska.

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