Forensic Investigation of a Barge Collision

Barge collision investigation - showing onboard engine
Barge collision investigation - showing onboard engine
Barge Engine

O’Donnell Consulting performed a forensic investigation of a barge collision that involved a docked leisure paddle-wheeled ship in Pittsburgh, PA.

The accident involved failure of the air compressed system. This system consisted of two 5 HP compressors and two 120 gallon receiving tanks with relief valves to prevent overpressure.

This air compressed system controlled the starting and stopping of the main engines, the throttle and clutch, in addition to the auxiliary systems including the horn. A loss of air pressure in the system caused trips in the throttles and clutches – without propeller thrust, the rudders become ineffective in steering the boat.

We determined that the system contained a defective safety valve, which was the primary root cause for the system failure. The valve had a latent defect exonerating the ship owner per Maritime Law.


O’Donnell Consulting Performs Engineering Design, Analysis and Troubleshooting – as well as Forensic Engineering / Expert Witness Investigations.

(412) 835-5007

Scroll to Top