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Accident Report Detail

Marine Accident Brief: Sinking of Towing Vessel Spence

Executive Summary

​On December 14, 2015, about 115 nm north of Cartagena, Colombia, the US-flagged towing vessel Spence listed severely after taking on water. The list increased despite efforts by the crew to correct it. Consequently, the captain activated the vessel’s emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB), and the crew climbed onto the barge that the Spence was towing. The towing vessel sank shortly thereafter. US Coast Guard District 7 received the EPIRB alert and directed the Coast Guard cutter Decisive to the scene. On arrival, the Decisive rescued the four crewmembers from the drifting barge. Three crewmembers sustained non-life threatening injuries.

Probable Cause

​The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the sinking of the towing vessel Spence was gradual flooding from an unknown point of ingress into the aft void space followed by downflooding to the engine room.

Accident Location: Cartagena ,   Colombia Caribbean Sea, 12°17.6’ N, 75°38.1’ W
Accident Date: 12/14/2015
Accident ID: DCA16FM011

Date Adopted: 3/24/2017
NTSB Number: MAB1707
NTIS Number:  

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