Excerpt from Inland Barge and Tug Industry Safety: Hearing Before the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Navigation of the Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries, House of Representatives, One Hundred Third Congress, First Session
I understand that when the Coast Guard boarded the towboat that struck the Big Bayou Canot Bridge, they found its wheelhouse lacked a nautical chart of the area that it was attempting to navi gate. What is even more surprising is that the vessel was not re quired to carry a chart. Small wonder that the captain wandered off course. For that matter, the vessel was not required to carry a compass, radar, a fathometer, or any navigational equipment. The only equipment that was required in the wheelhouse was a radio. My bill will simply mandate that all towing vessels must carry basic navigational tools.
In addition, my bill will underscore the importance of The Towing Vessel Manning Report that has been initiated by the Coast Guard. Human error by licensed personnel caused both of the accidents that we will hear about today in all probability. It is time to review the Coast Guard's manning and training standards for uninspected towing vessels.
Finally, I want to recognize the valiant efforts of those Amtrak and Coast Guard personnel who courageously responded to the chaos that must have followed the Sunset Limited derailment. I look forward to hearing the views of our distinguished panel of wit nesses, and I ask that each you please summarize your testimony. Your written statements will be made a part of the hearing record as is our procedure.
Gentlemen and ladies, a single isolated barge bridge accident is one thing. When they come in a series and when they begin to produce the toll of injuries and deaths that we have seen in recent days, I believe it is incumbent upon all of us to find out why and to do expeditiously what can be done to assure that lives are not lost in the future in similar accidents.
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