The Hocke Net
Drugs and alcohol in the wheelhouse
January 15, 2013
up in New Orleans, it was not unusual to occasionally hear about a barge tow plowing
into one of several bridges over the Mississippi River between the Crescent City
and Baton Rouge. Too often, when the smoke cleared, we learned that there was
alcohol in the system of the person at the helm of the towboat
involved in the allision.
generations of family members who worked on the river has provided me with more insight into
how much alcohol was a part of that culture.
U.S. Coast Guard, industry officials, and others have made a real effort to
change that culture over the last two decades, and those efforts are paying off.
(I think the straw that broke the camel’s back was the Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska in 1989. The captain of the Valdez had been drinking.)
just finished up the February issue of WorkBoat. The News Log section of the magazine contains articles about the
grounding of the Arctic-class oil rig Kulluk in
Alaskan waters, the allision between the ferry Seastreak Wall Street and Pier 11 in lower Manhattan, a not-so-friendly
meeting of the 750' tanker Overseas
Reymar and the Bay Bridge in San Francisco Bay, and litigation
involving Foss Maritime and the state of Kentucky over last year’s allision between Foss’s 312' Delta Mariner and the Eggners Ferry
testing was performed on the principals involved after each
of these accidents occurred. No alcohol was found to be a factor in any of
them. (Drug testing takes longer and not all of the tests are in as
yet.) Still, this is a major win for the industry. Yes, accidents happen. Yes, people make poor decisions. That’s life. But taking alcohol and drugs out of the mix
makes the whole industry a safer place to work.