WASHINGTON — The National Transportation Safety Board released marine accident brief 16/26, Thursday, in which the board determined fatigue to be the probable cause of the grounding of a fishing vessel resulting in the constructive total loss of the vessel.
The brief was released just two days after the board determined fatigue caused a 2014 fatal collision of two Union Pacific trains near Hoxie, Arkansas.
Marine accident brief 16/26 details the circumstances surrounding the Jan. 10, 2016, grounding of the fishing vessel Day Island near Ventura Beach, California. No injuries, fatalities nor environmental damage were reported in conjunction with the grounding.
The captain of the Day Island told investigators he had fallen asleep while operating the boat about 30 minutes before the grounding, awakening when the vessel ran up on the shore. He also said he experienced a toothache four or five days before the voyage, but his activities on the day of the grounding increased his pain and he took medication provided to him by a friend. He further reported feeling normal and took a second dose of the medication four or five hours later. Investigators could not identify the medication as it was lost with the vessel.
The NTSB concluded in its brief that the captain, “likely experienced chronic fatigue from several days of toothache pain that disrupted his sleep each night. Because the pain began several days before the accident, the captain presumably was chronically fatigued before the trip even began.” The brief also states, “The captain should not have operated the vessel because he was not fit for duty, either from lack of sleep alone or combined with the effects of a potentially impairing medication. The captain’s acute fatigue caused him to fall asleep while operating the vessel, which led to the vessel running aground.”
A recent analysis of NTSB accident investigations found fatigue was cited as either a probable cause, contributing factor or a finding in 20 percent of all recent major investigations in all modes of transportation, which is why “Reduce Fatigue-Related Accidents” is on the NTSB’s 2017 – 2018 Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements. The NTSB has issued more than 200 safety recommendations addressing fatigue-related problems across all modes of transportation.
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