The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has released a Marine Accident Brief on the sinking of the US-flagged towing vessel Spence in the Caribbean Sea on December 14th 2015.
Spence listed severely after taking on water about 115 nm north of Cartagena, Colombia. The captain eventually had to activate Spence’s emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB). The crew evacuated to the barge that the Spence was towing, and Spence sank shortly thereafter.
The four crewmembers were later rescued from the barge by the USCG. The NTSB found the probable cause of Spence’s sinking to be gradual flooding from an unknown point of ingress into the aft void space, followed by downflooding to the engine room.
Spence and the barge had just completed extensive repairs and maintenance work at the COTECMAR Shipyard in Cartegena to address a number of repairs. These included 29 repairs identified during an American Bureau of Shipping survey to renew the towing vessel’s international load line certificate, which were all corrected and the vessel was issued the certificate. It was not possible to determine whether the repairs had compromised the strength of Spence’s hull.