As mentioned in the most recent entry about the Ducks/barge collision, on Friday, July 9, a team of eleven National Transportation Safety Board investigators began their investigation into the accident.
From interviewing the duck-vessel's captain, the NTSB learned that he had tried to send a radio distress signal to the tugboat, and also that he had a non-working airhorn onboard, useless to warn river traffic.
The NTSB also spoke with the duck-vessel's deckhand and 16 survivors, before turning to focus on the captain and crew of the tug boat.
Many questions could be posed to them: Was the tug's radio tuned to the ship-to-ship channel, and the emergency channel? Was anyone on the tug monitoring the radio? Was the tug using its radar? Was the river "choppy", causing clutter on the tug's radar and making it difficult to see small boat traffic on the radar screen? How wide was the channel? How much small boat traffic is common on the Delaware River at Philadelphia-Camden?
Where were the tug's crew members stationed at the time of the accident? Because of the tugs position by the barge, pushing it from one side or "hip", was there a significant blind spot? Was the view up-river unobstructed? Was there a lookout on either the tug or the barge?
Inland Navigation Rule 5 ("Rule 5"), 33 U.S.C. §2005, requires vessels to post a proper lookout. Answers to the above questions will help the NTSB decide if a proper lookout was posted.
Clearly, one or both parties did not behave in a prudent and careful manner, or this collision, sinking and deaths would not have occurred. It will be up to the NTSB to assess fault and report on this matter.