Maritime Casualty News, April 2020

NTSB to release Stretch Duck 7 probable cause this month

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will meet on April 28 to discuss its findings on the sinking of Stretch Duck 7, an amphibious “duck boat” that capsized in 2018 in Branson, Mo., killing 17 people. 

The five-member board will meet virtually rather than in person at NTSB headquarters in Washington, D.C. Investigative staff will participate in the meeting remotely to adhere to social distancing guidelines aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus. The meeting will be webcast to the public, the agency said in a news release. 

Stretch Duck 7 sank at about 1910 on July 19, 2018, in Table Rock Lake in Branson during an intense storm. Twenty-nine passengers and two crew were aboard the vessel when it sank within sight of shore in windy, rough conditions. The boat sank in about 15 feet of water. 

The NTSB issued safety recommendations stemming from the incident last November, calling for “sufficient reserve buoyancy and improved emergency egress on (duck) amphibious passenger vessels.”

The agency will provide a link to the webcast shortly before the meeting starts. That link can be found here:

Boxship’s wake damages boats, docks at Columbia River marina

Port officials in Kalama, Wash., say the wake from a containership that was going too fast caused more than $1 million in damage to docks and recreational vessels at the city marina.

Liz Newman, spokeswoman for the Port of Kalama on the Columbia River, told the Daily News of Longview that the outbound SM Mumbai passed the marina April 13 between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. at an “excessive speed.” The port used surveillance images and cargo tracking data to trace the incident to the 860-foot ship registered in Liberia. 

The marina is separated from the river by a breakwater. However, a swell and then the suction of water apparently pushed boats onto docks, the newspaper reported. There is no speed limit along the Columbia River, although ships must pass at speeds considered safe for the prevailing conditions and circumstances. 

Cargo ships transiting this section of the river are required to have a contracted pilot on board. 

Casualty flashback: April 1925

The Japanese freighter Raifuku Maru left Boston for Hamburg, Germany, with a load of wheat and 38 crew on board. The 384-foot ship sank in a storm a few days later within sight of a British ocean liner.

All 38 crewmen died, raising tensions among some Japanese officials who reportedly accused the British crew aboard White Star Line’s RMS Homeric of not doing enough to rescue Raifuku Maru’s men — a claim British officials denied.

Raifuku Maru encountered the storm in the North Atlantic on April 21, three days after leaving Boston. Authorities believe the wheat cargo shifted in the vessel, causing it to list heavily. Its crew issued a distress call heard by several nearby ships, including Homeric and the British vessel King Alexander.  

Homeric reportedly reached the Japanese freighter in time for crewmembers to see it sink, according to a message sent from the ocean liner. The message said the ship was unable to rescue any Japanese crewmen.

The incident continued to circulate in popular culture for some time, due largely to claims about the initial distress signal that are now considered erroneous. Some media reported Raifuku Maru’s distress call said “Danger like dagger now,” which differs from accounts of the radio logs of nearby ships.

By Professional Mariner Staff