Maritime Casualty News, July 2016

Vessel breaks free, grounds in Hawaii during tropical storm

The commercial passenger vessel Spirit of Kona broke free from its mooring and ran aground on the island of Hawaii after Tropical Storm Darby passed through the area in late July.

Operated by Blue Sea Cruises, Spirit of Kona broke free in Kailua Bay on the morning of July 24 while no one was on board, according to a Coast Guard news release. The 65-foot boat landed on the rocky shore near Kailua-Kona Lighthouse.

The boat left a 120-by-53-yard non-recoverable sheen of diesel fuel in the area, the Coast Guard said. The boat also was reported to have 600 gallons of diesel on board, as well as commercial batteries and 19.5 gallons of hydraulic and lube oils.

The Coast Guard is investigating the cause of the grounding and was working with the Hawaii state agencies, salvage crews and the vessel’s owner to develop a salvage plan.

Improper mooring cited in Mississippi River breakaway

National Transportation Safety Board investigators say an improper mooring arrangement and an insufficient number of hold-in tugs led to a bulker breakaway last year on the Lower Mississippi River.

The 750-foot bulk carrier Privocean broke free from its moorings and collided with the tanker Bravo on April 6, 2015. The tugboat Texas had been assisting Privocean and also was involved in the collision. The tug became pinned between Bravo and Privocean when they collided.

The Malta-flagged Privocean was initially moored at Convent Marine Terminal. It was carried across the Mississippi after becoming unmoored, where it struck Bravo at the Ergon-St. James Terminal. The incident occurred during high water conditions.

The NTSB determined that the probable cause of the collision was the unfit mooring arrangement of Privocean and the inadequate number of tugs provided by the vessel operator for the existing conditions.

All three vessels involved in the incident were damaged, as was the dock at the Ergon-St. James Terminal and the deck equipment of three other tugboats, the report said. Four crewmembers on board Texas suffered minor injuries and about 10 barrels of fuel oil spilled into the Mississippi. Damages for the incident totaled almost $11 million.

NTSB: Speed, improper risk avoidance led to 2015 Gulf collision

The National Transportation Safety Board cited actions by both operators in a collision between a passenger vessel and a liftboat-configured offshore supply vessel 55 miles south-southwest of Lafayette, La., in the Gulf of Mexico.

The incident took place on March 2, 2015, while both boats were traveling in dense fog in open water. The passenger vessel, Diamond Edge, partially sank after its hull was breached as a result of the collision with the offshore supply vessel B.W. Haley.

No one was injured and there was no pollution as a result of the accident.

The probable cause of the collision was determined by the NTSB to be the failure of both operators to correctly determine the risk of collision and the excessive speed of Diamond Edge in poor visibility, the report said.

The combined damage for the vessels was more than $1.75 million.

Casualty flashback: July 1909

The paddle steamer Yosemite wrecked on July 9, 1909, when it struck the shore of the Puget Sound on its way to Bremerton, Wash. The crash occurred during the day when the captain abruptly turned sharply toward shore while traveling at about 14 miles per hour, according to published reports.

Constructed in California in 1863, Yosemite changed hands multiple times before it was purchased by Puget Sound Excursion Lines in 1906, where it ran cruises from Seattle to Bremerton and around Bainbridge Island.

Gordon Newell reports in his book H.W. McCurdy Marine History of the Pacific Northwest that Capt. Mike Edwards of Yosemite had expected that the current would influence the boat’s course differently than it had, resulting in his unexpected turn toward shore.

When Yosemite ran aground, its back was broken. The boat was a total loss, but the 1,000 passengers and crew were able to escape thanks to the assistance of a nearby steamer. Several passengers and crew suffered minor injuries, but there were no fatalities. 

Yosemite was sold to a new owner shortly before the accident, leading to speculation that the vessel was deliberately grounded. Although the vessel’s owner later was sentenced to prison for an unrelated crime, the accusations surrounding Yosemite’s loss were never proven.

By Professional Mariner Staff