Towing vessel sinks on lower Mississippi River – one missing

The towing vessel MISS NATALIE sank near mile marker 163 on the lower Mississippi River at approximately 8:00 a.m. on May 30 with 5 individuals on board.  Four of the crewmembers were picked up by a good samaritan.  One crewmember was missing.  The Coast Guard has now suspended the search.

The Coast Guard deployed 2 helicopters and a 45 foot response boat to conduct the search along with a response vessel from the port of South Louisianna.

The Coast Guard press releases indicated that the name of the vessel was the UTV MISS NATALIE.  “UTV” stands for “Uninspected Towing Vessel”. Section 415 of the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2004 requires all towing vessels to be inspected by the Coast Guard to ensure that the vessel is in compliance with all regulations pertaining to the design and construction of the vessel. Specificatlly, section 3306 of title 46, United States Code states that:

“the Secretary shall prescribe necessary regulations to ensure the proper execution of, and to carry out, this part in the most effective manner for …the design, construction, alteration, repair, and operation of those vessels, including superstructures, hulls, fittings, equipment, appliances, propulsion machinery, auxiliary machinery, boilers, unfired pressure vessels, piping, electric installations…”

 The Coast Guard has been attempting to prescribe these regulations for the past 11 years. Until these regulations are prescribed, casualties such as this will continue and the Coast Guard will spend resources on response instead of prevention.

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