The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has issued a Marine Accident Brief on the collision between a heavy lift vessel, an unarmed barge and the destroyer Delbert D Black in Pascagoula, Mississippi last March.

According to the report, after an approximately 60-day transit from Qingdao, the heavy lift semi-submersible vessel Hawk anchored off the coast, awaiting entry into the port. Two days later on March 29, 2019, while attempting to turn, the heavy lift vessel and its oversized cargo – a floating drydock – collided with the barge and destroyer, which were moored at the Ingalls Shipbuilding complex.

The NTSB’s analysis found that as Hawk approached the entrance to the Pascagoula River, the master warned the pilots that the vessel was slow in reducing speed and recommended decreasing speed earlier. However, pilot 1 was reluctant to moderate the vessel’s engine speed, concerned that he would have less rudder control and that the vessel would be set down on the port side of the channel.

The pilot instead opted to use the tugboats made up to the stern to slow the Hawk, eventually ordering back full on both tugboats. The vessel did not slow as pilot 1 expected, and the tugboats made up to the stern did not have enough power to sufficiently reduce the Hawk’s speed prior to making the turn.

The report concluded: “The NTSB determines that the probable cause of the collision of the heavy lift vessel Hawk with a docked barge and the destroyer Delbert D Black was the speed at which the conning pilot was operating the Hawk while attempting to turn and anchor in a shipyard basin.”

Offshore Heavy Transport (OHT), the owner and operator of the semi-submersible ship, said that it is not in a position to comment on the incident while the case continues.