Unqualified Personnel were Manning Tug Boats in Recent Collisions

NEW ORLEANS – Recent incidents involving tug boats owned or operated by DRD Towing prompted the Coast Guard to closely look into the operations of other vessels operated by them.

A preliminary Coast Guard investigation has uncovered that the crewmember piloting the tug boat Mel Oliver, which collided with the chemical tank ship Tintomara early Wednesday morning spilling 420,000 gallons of fuel oil into the Mississippi River, held an apprentice mate’s license.

A formal investigation into the cause of the incident has been ordered by Rear Adm. Joel R. Whitehead, commander of the Eighth Coast Guard District. The public hearing is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 12 at the Hale Boggs Federal Building, 500 Poydras Street, New Orleans.

Another tug boat operated by DRD Towing, Ruby E, was involved in an incident on July 13, 2008, resulting in the sinking of that vessel. The preliminary investigation into that incident revealed that the crewmember piloting the Ruby E also held an apprentice mate’s license.

Apprentice mates require the presence of a licensed master on board, which was absent on both the Mel Oliver and the Ruby E.

In light of those two incidents, the Coast Guard identified 18 DRD Towing-owned vessels operating through the Western Gulf region, including 12 in New Orleans. The Coast Guard visited all 12 vessels on July 23 and they were all found to be properly manned with adequately licensed personnel.

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4 Comments

  1. TOWING FIRM, PORT CAPTAIN says:

    I KNOW SEVERAL CAPTAINS THAT WORK FOR DRD TOWING HAVE TOLD ME THAT THEY NEVER DID THE PRE-EMPLOYMENT PHYSICAL AND DRUG TESTS AND ALSO DECKHANDS. AS WE ALL KNOW VERY WELL THIS IS MANDATORY BY THE U.S. COAST GUARD.
    ALL THERE RECORDS OF EVERY EMPLOYEE SHOULD BE INSPECTED!!!
    THEY HAVE BEEN SHORT CUTTING THERE OPERATION SINCE THEY HAVE BEEN IN BUSINESS AND I HAVE REPOTED THERE VIOLATIONS SEVERAL
    TIMES TO THE COAST GUARD AND HAVE NEVER RECEIVED ANY FEED BACK.
    YOU MUST INSPECT THERE RECORDS,WE AS WELL AS OTHER COMPANYS
    ARE DOING THE CORRECT POLICY ACCORDING TO U.S. GOAST GUARD RULES AND REGULATIONS AND THEY ARE NOT.

    THEY DO THIS TO SAVE THE $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
    NOW WE ARE LOOSING INCOME BECAUSE OUR VESSELS ARE TIED UP
    BECAUSE OF THIS ACCIDENT!

  2. safety2man says:

    Yes, DRD towing gives the industry a big black eye.It is upseting for the tugboat company and tug operators who do it right and follow RCP AWO procedures.

    This company should of been Audited years ago with the information they have received from various mariners reporting safety concerns about the company.

    Why was ACL doing business with this company if they were suspended from the AWO Safety Program in May?

  3. Sicken Captain says:

    It’s really sad and a black eye for the industry unfortunately , everyone is going to suffer from this incident.I just hope this incident opens every ones eyes,and we learn from others past mistakes.The ones that are going to really suffer is new pilots comming up.Hopefully we can educate and revaluate the process so this doesn’t happen again.A pilot is only as good as his training , which is a good starting foundation for a seasoned veteran.

  4. mel deckhand says:

    I am the deckhand from the boat so i cant get into any details but!!!I worked with DRD off and on since i was 18 and never in my life experienced any thing so horrorfing in my life when i opened the door the ship was there no chances to jump if i had to i wanted to but just couldnt