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Accident Report Detail

Marine Accident Brief: Explosion and Fire aboard Articulated Tug and Barge Buster Bouchard/B. No. 255

Executive Summary

​On October 20, 2017, at 0430 local time, the crews of the articulated tug and barge (ATB) Buster Bouchard/B. No. 255 were preparing to get under way from anchorage to proceed into the Port of Corpus Christi, Texas, when an explosion and subsequent fire occurred on the bow of the barge. Two barge crewmembers who were on the bow were killed in the explosion. The fire was extinguished about 1100 on the same day. Approximately 2,000 barrels (84,000 gallons) of crude oil were released from the barge into the water or were consumed in the fire. The barge sustained over $5 million in damage and was scrapped after the accident. There was no damage to the tugboat.

Probable Cause

​The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the explosion aboard the barge B. No. 255 was the lack of effective maintenance and safety management of the barge by Bouchard Transportation, which resulted in crude oil cargo leaking through a corroded bulkhead into the forepeak void space, forming vapor, and igniting. Contributing to the accident were the ineffective inspections and surveys by the Coast Guard and the American Bureau of Shipping.

Accident Location: Port Aransas , TX USA Aransas Pass Fairway Anchorage, 27°49.80’ N, 096°59.40’ W
Accident Date: 10/20/2017
Accident ID: DCA18FM002

Date Adopted: 4/18/2019
NTSB Number: MAB1907
NTIS Number:  

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