Fatal Marine Tragedy

Coast Guard crews respond to a dredge on fire in the Port of Corpus Christi Ship Channel, August 21, 2020. A Sector/Air Station Corpus Christi MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew was launched to the scene, hoisted two injured crewmembers, and transferred them to Corpus Christi Medical Center – Bay Area, U.S. Coast Guard District 8.

Fatal Tragedy Strikes as Online Training Rolls Out

Four crewmen are dead due to a cutter suction dredge that struck a propane pipeline August 21, 2020 in the Corpus Christi Ship Channel’s Inner Harbor. The gas ignited, causing an explosion aboard the dredge.

Just two years earlier and approximately 50 miles away, the same type of incident occurred. In April 2018, a dredge struck a natural gas line with an explosion that demolished the dredge. In this incident, the crew was very lucky to escape with their lives, due solely to a very alert worker who saw gas bubbles rising around the dredge’s spud and took immediate action before the explosion occurred. Statistics have shown an average of one fatality per year occurs from a vessel and pipeline interaction. These accidents have led to increased focus and efforts in marine damage prevention and collaboration between the pipeline and marine industries.

The National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB) investigators have released a preliminary report outlining the events that led up to the Port of Corpus Christi dredge explosion. Their report finds the incident was caused by a series of events that began when the dredge vessel reportedly hit an underwater propane pipeline and ended in the death of four crew members and others injured after the dredge originally caught fire. Eighteen employees were working on the dredge the morning of the explosion. Six of 14 crew members were airlifted to burn units in San Antonio.

The report states the fire reignited later that night, precipitating the dredge sinking overnight.

It is very unfortunate this tragedy occurred less than a month after the first-ever online marine pipeline safety training module was released and one year after a Marine Vessel and Pipeline Safety Best Practice was produced. We cannot help but think if these training materials had been implemented, perhaps there is a small chance these crew lives could have been saved.

These topics will be the key focus of the CAMO Lunch & Learn Meeting in Tampa, Florida on March 23, 2021. This annual stakeholder lunch will be held during Damage Prevention Week and in conjunction with the Global Excavation Safety Conference. The CAMO Lunch & Learn is free, sponsored by CAMO and its members. Lunch will be served, but space is limited, and registration is required. Attendees will hear from industry groups, regulators, agencies, 811 representatives, and first responders focused on pipeline safety, response, and damage prevention. You can register to attend at GlobalExcavation- SafetyConference.com/camo.

A large portion of CAMO’s meeting will have a Train-the-Trainer component. We want everyone to take the free resources provided, along with learning and awareness materials, back to their workplace for adoption and integration. The resources gained is additional justification for an organization to send representation. The training materials provided are ideal for personnel in damage prevention, safety, construction, dredging, coastal restoration, pipeline companies, ports, mariners, regulators, agencies and emergency responders.

Ed Landgraf is Chairman of Coastal and Marine Operators. Learn more at camogroup.org. Fatal Tragedy Strikes as Online Training Rolls Out BY ED LANDGRAF – COASTAL AND MARINE OPERATORS DP

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