The National Transportation Safety Board has released its report on the July 24, 2021 incident involving the fishing boat Tenacious. During the incident, the fishing vessel grounded while heading to fishing grounds in Prince William Sound, off the coast of Alaska. Five crew members were forced to abandon the vessel, which later sank. The vessel was owned by Zimmerman Fisheries. According to some of the crew members, they were operating on very little sleep at the time.
The Captain was behind the wheel of the vessel, while the rest of the crew were sleeping when the incident occurred. The vessel was on autopilot when the Captain fell asleep at the wheel. The Captain was woken when the vessel struck some rocks in shallow water. When he checked the engine room, the Captain discovered water had entered through penetrations in the bulkhead caused by the impact. A distress call was made and the crew abandoned the ship.
The NTSB’s report determined the probable cause of the incident:
The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the grounding of the fishing vessel Tenacious was the captain’s decision to get under way while fatigued. Contributing to the casualty was the decision not to use the navigation system’s cross track error alarm and to operate with a non-functioning bridge watch alarm.
The incident serves as a reminder about the risks of crew member fatigue. The lessons learned as found by the NTSB:
3.2.1 Fatigue In this casualty, and as the NTSB has previously noted in numerous commercial fishing vessel casualties, crew fatigue is a significant causal factor. Owners/operators should ensure that crewmembers receive enough rest to adequately perform duties.
3.2.2 Watch Alarm A watch alarm, when used as intended, is an effective tool that can help ensure that a crewmember remains awake and vigilant while on duty. However, a watch alarm is not a substitute for the management and mitigation of fatigue. Owners/operators of vessels equipped with a watch alarm should establish procedures for its operation and use, especially when only one crewmember is responsible for navigation and lookout.
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