After mooring lines snap in high winds, ship hits three vessels on the Mississippi

Sifnos Sun is visible across the bow of UBC Toronto, one of three vessels struck by Sifnos Sun after high winds broke the ship’s mooring lines and sent it across the Mississippi.

The mooring lines of a bulk carrier broke while it was docked at New Orleans in high winds, causing the vessel to drift away from the wharf and strike several vessels.

The 589-foot Sifnos Sun was tied up at the Andry Street Wharf on the Lower Mississippi River when it broke free at about 1440 on Feb. 12. At the time, the Marshall Islands-flagged ship was taking on ballast and conducting its annual survey.
The wharf is on the river’s east bank, at mile marker 92, about three miles down-river from New Orleans. Coast Guard Sector New Orleans received the vessel’s mayday call at around 1500.
Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Cheri Ben-Iesau said witnesses heard the snap-back of polypropylene breaking, then the vessel was adrift without power. There were seven polypropylene lines being utilized for the forward mooring and seven polypropylene lines on the aft mooring. Multiple witnesses confirmed that the forward lines parted initially followed by the aft lines within one to three minutes.
Coast Guard investigators were awaiting meteorological data to verify wind reports of 9 to 12 on the Beaufort scale — 41 knots to 64 knots or more.
“Wind was likely a major contributing factor to the parting of the lines,†Ben-Iesau said.
“The lines did not appear to be poor, frayed or unusually weathered,†she said.
Adrift at 1445, Sifnos Sun’s bow pivoted 45 to 60 degrees away from the wharf and began crossing the river. It collided with MV W.H. Blount, a 736-foot bulk carrier heading down river, striking the ship’s port quarter aft holds. It then continued to slide along W.H. Blount until finally passing aft and continuing on to the west bank of the river toward the New Orleans general anchorage area.
At about 1450, Sifnos Sun struck MV Wisla, which was anchored. Sifnos Sun’s starboard quarter struck the bow of Wisla and continued to slide down-river along the entire port side of Wisla.
At approximately 1500, Sifnos Sun struck the anchored  MV UBC Toronto, with 10 hopper barges. Sifnos Sun’s starboard quarter struck the bow of UBC Toronto.
Sifnos Sun finally stopped when its bow ran aground on the west bank. By 1615, Sifnos Sun was no longer aground and was allowed to anchor in the general anchorage area. At approximately 2100, Sifnos Sun returned to the Andry Street Wharf.
There were no injuries or pollution as a result of the accident. The Coast Guard was assessing damage to the vessels involved. The case was still under investigation in early March.

The owner of the vessel, Sifnos Navigation SA of Greece, could not be reached for comment.

By Professional Mariner Staff