Fishing vessel and bulk carrier collide off N.Y. even though both saw each other on radar

The U.S. Coast Guard is investigating how a 623-foot bulk carrier and 72-foot fishing boat that saw each other on radar collided off Long Island, N.Y., in clear weather.

The collision of the cargo ship Balder and fishing vessel Atlantic Queen occurred in the Atlantic Ocean 11 miles south of Jones Beach at 0330 on July 30, 2010. Visibility was 10 nm, the wind speed 9 knots and wave height two feet, the Coast Guard said.

Rhode Island-based Atlantic Queen lost approximately 15 feet of its bow, but remained afloat. One crewmember was injured in his upper torso. He and two others aboard the boat owned by Atlantic Queen Inc., of Wakefield, R.I., were rescued by a Coast Guard boat from Station Jones Beach. No one was hurt on the 48,000-dwt self-unloader, which is owned by Klaveness Maritime Logistics AS of Oslo, Norway, and registered in the Marshall Islands.

Lt. Cmdr. Mark Bottiglieri, chief of the Investigation Division at Sector New York, said Balder unloaded its cargo of aggregate, left its moorings in Brooklyn at 0020 and headed in ballast for its next port of call in Canada. The pilot disembarked at 0220 and the vessel headed east-northeast.

Atlantic Queen left Point Judith, R.I., July 27 for a six-day trip to fish off the south shore of Long Island and approaches to New York Harbor. At around 0200, the fishing boat, which had not been fishing and lay adrift off Fire Island, N.Y., got underway and headed west-southwest.

Balder was crewed by 26 people in accordance with its Minimum Safe Manning Certificate, and the second mate held the bridge watch. A deck hand had the watch on the fishing boat.

The watch on Balder reported observing Atlantic Queen on radar and estimated the closest point of approach (CPA) would be about .5 nm. The watch on Atlantic Queen reported observing Balder on radar when it was about six miles out, but could not recall if an exact CPA was calculated. Neither vessel established communications with the other vessel. Alcohol tests on crewmembers from both vessels were negative.

The collision resulted in minor damage to the port side of Balder between the No. 2 and No. 3 cargo holds and significant damage to Atlantic Queen‘s bow and starboard side. The fishing boat was subsequently towed back to its homeport.

Coast Guard crews from Station Jones Beach and the cutter Spencer assisted the fishing boat with damage control, de-watering efforts and first aid.

After the collision, both vessels reported to the Coast Guard that all mechanical and electronic equipment had been functioning properly.

Klaveness did not respond to an

e-mail seeking comment, and the fishing boat owners could not be reached.

Bill Bleyer

By Professional Mariner Staff