On July 18, 2014, about 0355 central daylight time, the towing vessel Riley Elizabeth was pushing 30 barges on the Mississippi River at Kempe Bend, near Waterproof, Louisiana, when the vessel and two of its barges collided with a US Army Corps of Engineers (Corps of Engineers) barge plant conducting a revetment project. No one was injured in the accident; however, the collision resulted in an estimated $100,000 in damage to the Riley Elizabeth and two of its barges and $200,000 in damage to the barge plant.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the collision of the Riley Elizabeth tow with the Corps of Engineers barge plant was the incomplete information provided by the Corps of Engineers about the extent of the obstruction in the waterway, and the failure of the Riley Elizabeth mate to determine the extent of the obstruction before starting the turn at Kempe Bend.
Safety issues identified in this accident include the following:
Incomplete information to mariners about waterway obstructions: Neither the Corps of Engineers contact vessels that were positioned near the barge plant nor the public information that the Corps of Engineers disseminated about the barge plant specified the extent of the waterway obstruction.
Need for expanded use of automatic identification system (AIS) features to mark waterway obstructions: The Corps of Engineers barges did not display electronically on AIS receivers or vessel charting software to inform mariners about the extent of the waterway obstruction posed by the barge plant.
As a result of this investigation, the National Transportation Safety Board makes new recommendations to the Corps of Engineers.