Maritime Casualty News, December 2013

Ferry runs aground off North Carolina, 14 injured

The 64-foot passenger ferry Adventure ran aground Dec. 17 shortly after leaving Southport, N.C., with 53 passengers aboard. Adventure was headed for Bald Head Island on a routine 20-minute run and grounded near Battery Island.

According to a Coast Guard press release, the ferry’s crew contacted U.S. Coast Guard Station Oak Island via VHF around 0900, reporting that they had run aground and passengers aboard were in need of medical assistance.

The crew of the Coast Guard cutter Bayberry used their shallow water skiff to medevac 14 injured passengers from Adventure and transferred them to a 47-foot motor life boat and a 25-foot Response Boat Small. The crews aboard the two rescue boats then took the injured passengers to Deep Point Marina.

Partner agencies from Bald Head Island, Towboat US and the Brunswick Sherriff's department helped recover the non-injured passengers and transferred them to the Bald Head Island Ferry Ranger.

Bald Head Island Transportation, operators of the vessel, attempted to refloat Adventure at 1030, Dec. 18 during high tide without success.

Dec. 19 at about 0830 during high tide, the crew aboard the 102-foot tugboat Cape Hatteras from Moran Towing pulled Adventure free and towed the ferry up the Cape Fear River to Wilmington Marine Center.

Coast Guard investigators are still working to determine the cause of the grounding.


Two barges collide in Corpus Christi Ship Canal

Tugboats Yellowfin and Capt. Warren were transiting the Corpus Christi Ship Canal near Ingleside, Texas, when the barges they were pushing collided at 0200 on Dec. 17. The 61-foot Capt. Warren was inbound while the 111-foot Yellowfin was heading outbound.

According to a U.S. Coast Guard press release, the Yellowfin barge was loaded with about 4.2 million gallons of gas oil. The barges of Capt. Warren were not loaded. Both barges are undergoing repairs that are being monitored by the Coast Guard.

There were no injuries and no pollution reported as a result of this collision. The cause of the accident is under investigation.

Yellowfin is operated by Penn Maritime, of Stamford, Conn. The operator for Capt. Warren could not be determined.


Ferry makes hard landing at New York pier

A 69-foot Goldman Sachs ferry struck the end of the Owen Grundy Pier in New Jersey at 1620 on Nov. 29. The ferry, operated by New York Waterway, was en route from the World Financial Center in Manhattan to Jersey City.

The pier was 300 yards north of the dock the ferry, York, was headed for. According to the Coast Guard, 24 passengers and three crewmembers were on board. Five passengers and two crewmembers were reported with minor injuries.

The captain and two deck hands passed drug and alcohol tests. No pollution had been reported as a result of the accident.

No cause has been determined, but an investigation by the Jersey City Police Department, U.S. Coast Guard and NYPD Harbor Unit is ongoing.


Crewman medevaced after fall from fourth deck

A 35-year-old man suffered serious injuries after falling from the fourth deck of the 455-foot containership Finesse on Nov. 18. The Antigua-flagged vessel was off the coast of Bermuda at the time of the incident.

According to the Coast Guard press release, the captain of Finesse contacted Coast Guard 5th District Command Center watchstanders at about 1600 Nov. 18, reporting that a crewmember “suffered head trauma and a possible broken leg and arm.”

An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter arrived shortly after midnight Nov. 19, hoisted the man into the helicopter and took him to King Edward Memorial Hospital in Bermuda.


Casualty flashback: December 2003

On Dec. 9, 2003, the 289-foot heavy-lift freighter Stellamare capsized and sank in New York’s Hudson River while loading a 304-ton generator at the Port of Albany. There were 18 Russian crewmembers aboard and three were trapped in a cargo hold and died.

Two General Electric generators were being loaded aboard Stellamare that day. One weighed 304 tons and the other 234 tons. The lighter of the two was loaded successfully. It was loaded first to make the ship more stable in preparation for the heavier generator. There were four men down in the cargo hold securing the smaller generator.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard Prevention Blog, “ballast was discharged from the large starboard side tanks and the empty ballast tanks on the port side were filled. All of this happened faster than it should have. By the time there was full tension on the cargo runners, all port tanks were full and both of the large starboard tanks were empty … The port side had no ‘reserve ballast capacity,’ a phrase coined by the Coast Guard’s technical advisor to the investigating officer.”

Before the port-side ballast discharge began, the pontoon became submerged. This meant that the ship, with its suspended load, was unstable. The captain didn’t realize the condition of instability caused by the submerged pontoon and continued discharging port-side ballast in hope of alleviating the port list. The center of gravity got higher with every ton of ballast discharged, resulting in the ship capsizing to port at about 1500.

Crewmembers on deck fell into the 30° water. Three of the four crewmembers who were down in the hold did not make it out. They either drowned or died of hypothermia. The first body was recovered on Dec. 19 and the last on Jan. 5.

The refloating operation took three weeks. The primary salvor, Smit Salvage Americas Inc., of Houston, was assisted by Donjon Marine and Weeks Marine, of Cranford, N.J. Environmental damage was controlled with rapid response that recovered about 6,000 gallons of diesel oil and 1,400 gallons of other oils.

At the time of the incident, the 2,368-dwt Stellamare was owned by the Netherlands company Jumbo Navigation NV. The vessel was built in 1982 by Van Diepen Shipyards in Waterhuizen, Netherlands.

The Coast Guard determined that poor communication resulting from the supervisors speaking Dutch while the crew spoke Russian, with English being used as a relay, was a contributing factor to mismanagement of ballast tanks.

By Professional Mariner Staff