NTSB: Poor Maintenance Caused Sinking

Inadequate maintenance caused the sinking of the mv. Ms. Nancy C on March 6, 2018. That was the conclusion of the National Transportation Safety Board, which released its report March 6, exactly one year after the incident.

On March 6, 2018, the Ms. Nancy C was moving and positioning barges while operating in Everett Lake, a tributary of the Mississippi River, when a deckhand noticed water in a void at the vessel’s stern. He attempted to dewater the void space with first one submersible electric pump, then a second. When the volume of water increased and appeared too much for the two pumps, the deckhand notified the captain. The two men went aboard a nearby work barge to retrieve a third pump with a larger diameter hose. Before they could return, the vessel heeled over to port. Neither crewmember suffered any injury.

The vessel sank in 15 feet of water. Its bow remained connected to the barges via facing wire.  Damage was estimated at $667,306. About 830 gallons of fuel and lube oil were released into the water.

When the vessel was refloated 15 days later, an inspection revealed broken or missing screws on several covers over the void spaces. Gasket material was scarred or hardened. Several covers that the deckhand had not opened were found to be open.

Gaps were found in steel plates welded over corroded areas. Investigators found that the hull was likely not the source of water ingress, but they found “numerous” potential sources of water ingress on the main deck, engineroom and voids.  A hose used to clear water from the shafts was leaking, and sealant applied to the place where it passed through the main deck was poorly applied. Two penetrations were found between the forward and aft stern voids, rending the spaces non-watertight.

On the day of the incident, waves were reported as high as 3 to 4 feet with whitecaps. The vessel’s normal freeboard was about 2 feet.

The Ms. Nancy C was built in 1979 by Superior Boat Works in Greenville, Miss., and was originally named the Ryan L. It was operated by Choctaw Transportation Company.