NTSB releases report over probable cause of Carib Trader II sinking

The Washington-based National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has issued its investigation report into the flooding and sinking of the towed cargo vessel Carib Trader II.

The incident took place on March 6, 2022, near the Magallanes Bank, approximately 25 miles northwest of Santo Domingo Cay, Bahamas.

The uncrewed general cargo vessel Carib Trader II took on water and sank while being towed by the towing vessel Capt. Beau, which had five crewmembers aboard. A small debris field was reported.

There were no injuries but damage to the vessel was estimated at $752,700.

The NTSB determined that the probable cause of the flooding and subsequent sinking of the Carib Trader II while under dead ship tow was the uncontrolled flooding of the engine room from an undetermined location below the waterline.

In accordance with the NTSB report, the tow line bridle to the Carib Trader II parted in winds and seas that were near the maximum allowed in the tow plan.

The Capt. Beau crew found that the Carib Trader II’s port anchor chain had payed out and the ship was riding lower at the stern.

The increased drag from the tow’s greater draft and a trailing anchor, combined with dynamic loading of the towline assembly in the 7–9-foot seas and 24–30-knot winds, would have increased forces on the bridle.

As the NTSB highlights in its report, “the Carib Trader II, which had a history of substandard care and maintenance, had been in layup for 2 years. The inspection history of the vessel suggests the Carib Trader II was in poor condition.”

After boarding the vessel, the mate found the engine room flooding, and, although he attempted to dewater with a portable pump prestaged for the dead ship tow, the pump was not able to keep up with the flooding.

Because the engine room was found to be flooding rapidly, it is likely that the source of the flooding was below the waterline, concludes the NTSB analysis.

You can read the full report here.