Poor visibility, pilot error cited in Hudson River barge grounding

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WorkBoatExtreme Hudson River fog and a powerful current contributed to the April 4 grounding of a barge carrying 60,000 bbls. of gasoline at Catskill, N.Y., according to a report from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation police.

The 458’x72’ double-hull barge RTC 150, pushed by the 119’x40’x22’, 7,200-hp tugboat Meredith C. Reinauer operated by the Reinauer Transportation Companies, were hauling the fuel upriver to Albany, N.Y.,  when the articulated tug-barge got into trouble and hung up on a stone channel marker just south of the Rip Van Winkle Bridge.

The ATB was undamaged in the incident, and no fuel spilled.

That was a good outcome for the New York maritime industry, as the grounding occured amid debate over proposed new anchorage areas on the Hudson River, an industry supported proposal vigorously opposed by environmental groups and river towns. The Coast Guard has paused its consideration of that plan, while it conducts a study to assess safety risks and other issues.

Capt. Steven Hardy, 64, told DEC police he was heading north on the river, pushing against the current in almost zero visibility and relying on electronic navigation. At around 8:15 a.m., the GPS indicated the ATB was on the easternmost side of the channel, and Hardy attempted to steer west and back to the channel center, according to the DEC report.

As he attempted to correct course, the oncoming river current, spurred by outgoing tide, “began to push the tug and barge sideways resulting in an overcorrection of course,” the report says.  Read more.

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