Monday, March 06, 2006

Maritrans Tug Valour Sinking / Cause - Witnesses and Persons with Knowledge Wanted / Coast Guard Hearings

Clark & Watson, P.A. is interested in speaking with anyone who has knowledge of the Tug Valour, her general condition and her mechanical systems, prior to sinking.
On March 1, 2006 the U.S. Coast Guard held hearings and took testimony of the crew of the Tug Valour regarding the sinking and its cause. The incident killed three crewmen on January 18, 2006.
At the hearings the crew testified that the Tug Valour had been listing, at times, both port and starboard for hours before she sank. At the end, the vessel was listing severely to port and went down sharply by the stern, striking the bottom of the ocean. This is also shown on video shot by the Coast Guard during rescue operations.
The crew testified that they had found and patched a small crack in the hull above the waterline, that water was leaking around the shaft packings and was leaking from a porthole. The crew thought that the amount of water was not excessive and reported that there did not appear to be excessive amounts of water in the bilges in the engine room. There was evidence, however, that there was water below the deck plates in the engine room and that the Chief Engineer was pointing to the bilges when one crewman entered the engine room. Eventually an emergency was declared in the engine room and the general alarm was sounded.
From the severe list, and evidence that the vessel went sharply down by the stern it appears that there may have been massive quantities of water somewhere inside the vessel. The crew had been using ballast water to correct lists from both port and starboard and evidently had been checking valves and systems in the engine room to assure that all water and ballast systems were working properly.
The weather was severe for hours before sinking but did not appear, from testimony, to be enough to overcome the vessel on its own.
It has been reported that Maritrans and the Coast Guard do not yet know what caused the vessel to sink. The vessel is said to be in 107 feet of water and is to be raised. The Coast Guard has indicated that it will continue its investigation and expects to know more after the vessel is raised and inspected.
The Chief Engineer was one of the three crewmen that perished in this incident. Clark & Watson, P.A. represents the children of the Chief Engineer.
Clark & Watson, P.A. would like to talk with officers, crewmen and engineers who have worked aboard the Tug Valour, prior to the voyage on which she was lost. We are trying to gather facts and information that may assist in determining why and how water may have entered the vessel and the probable cause or contributing causes of the loss and the injury and death of some of her crew. We are particularly interested in why she was listing, and why she would sink by the stern.
If you or someone you know worked, in any position aboard the vessel, between 2000 and 2006 we would like to talk with you. Particularly if you have knowledge of the vessel and her engineering and ballast systems and or knowledge of prior problems with the Tug Valour leaking or taking on water and listing.
Also, anyone who was not crew but has worked on or conducted repairs or surveys on the vessel may be helpful.
If you or someone you know has knowledge of the Tug Valour or her conditions and systems prior to sinking you may call us toll free at 1-866-529-7447 or you may email us at Our website and contact information can be accessed through
This information may help the parties determine why this tragic incident occurred and give closure to the families.
Thank you,
Dwayne Clark and Kristen Watson

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