NTSB Announces Cause of Fatal Tugboat Crash

Three people died in a March 12th 2016 crash due to fatigue and insufficient staffing when a tugboat, The Specialist, collided with a construction barge. 

The NTSB recently announced the findings of their investigation

The Specialist was one of three tugboats pulling a barge. The Trevor and Realist were the other two tugboats, with the Realist as lead tugboat. They were headed for Staten Island, when the Specialist collided at the Tappan Zee Bridge with the construction barge, N181.

The Specialist sank quickly, plunging 40ft below the surface. 

Tappan Zee Bridge MOPS

The Specialist had a captain, 2 deckhands, and a mate.

According to the investigators, the crew of the Specialist was sleep deprived, with the deckhand stating in text messages that he had been awake for about 24 hours.

The captain of the Specialist left the helm for reasons unknown and went to the Realist. A deckhand had to take over the helm and noted that wind and weather conditions were making visibility difficult. When the Specialist struck the N181, it took on water and despite rescue efforts, the three crew members aboard the Specialist all died.

It was also noted that the Specialist had not yet been re-inspected from the 18 deficiencies noted by the Coast Guard on April 2, 2014.


Since 1935, MOPS has protected the licenses and livelihoods of more than 80,000 deck and engineering officers, state and federal pilots and certified tankermen.  

We cover USCG licensed officers operating aboard vessels of any size in every sector of the maritime industry.  If you want a quote, give us a ring at 800-782-8902, ext. 3608 or 3302.  Or fill out our online form and we'll email you a quote.