Pilots, captains, and wheelmen are all primarily tasked with the safety of their crew and passengers. These seaman are also responsible for the safe navigation of their vessels, no matter the size or type of cargo. Some of the work shifts last 12-hours instead of 6-hour shorts, or tours.
On March 15, 2012, the Dixie Vandal struck another docked vessel when the pilot fell asleep at the wheel at the end of his long 12-hour tour. According to the federal investigation of this crash, the report concludes the pilot took a type of allergy medication as well. After the Dixie Vandal crew switched to 6-hour shifts. Unfortunately, the crash cost over half a million dollars in damages and some jet fuel was spilled into the Houston Ship Channel. Luckily, no injuries were reported though a sleeping pilot at the wheel of any vessel can result in catastrophic injuries and death.
Fatigue is a common cause of maritime crashes. In a recent five-year study by the National Transportation Safety Board, 10 in 14 boat crashes involved fatigued pilots and most occurred during the early morning hours. Those who own and operate vessels have to ensure that they adequately staff the vessels and not encourage dangerous work cultures where arduous work shifts put the crew, passengers, and cargo at risk.
If you or someone you know has been injured or killed while working offshore or near water, contact an experienced attorney at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz, & Stogner by calling 713-396-3964 or toll free at 1-800-594-4884.