NTSB: Weld Failure Led To Barge Striking Fishing Pier

The failure of a weld ultimately led to a barge breaking loose from its mooring and heavily damaging a pier in November of last year, the National Transportation Safety Board concluded in its Marine Accident Brief released November 12.

On November 17, 2019, sometime before sunrise, a construction barge broke free from its mooring in stormy weather and drifted about two miles to the south before it contacted and damaged an entertainment pier and grounded on a beach just north of a fishing pier in Hampton, Va.

Emergency responders were notified but were unable to stop the barge’s continued movement down the beach where it ultimately contacted the James T. Wilson fishing pier.  The contact caused two of the pier’s 40-foot concrete spans to collapse.

Nobody was aboard the barge or on the pier when the accident occurred.  The vessel was later extricated from under the pier and towed to a repair yard. No pollution or injuries were reported. Damage to the vessel was estimated at $38,000, and damage to the pier was estimated at $1,277,157.

Investigators determined that a weld on the shackle that connected the barge to the mooring chain failed, allowing the barge to become adrift. The eight-page Marine Accident Brief 20-35 is available at

NTSB accident reports in all modes of transportation can now be accessed through CAROL, the NTSB’s new accident investigation search tool: