Maritime Casualty News July 2021

Gasoline spills following South Texas barge collision 

Gasoline spilled into the shipping channel near Port Isabel, Texas, following a collision between two barges in the Port Isabel Turning Basin. 

According to the Coast Guard, an unidentified barge pushed by the towboat Albert hit the barge EMS 372 at about 1000 on July 3. The collision opened a 3-foot gash on the starboard side of EMS 372. Gas escaped from the barge at a rate of 5 to 10 gallons per minute, the Coast Guard said. An unknown quantity entered the waterway. 

EMS 372 was the lead barge in a tow established by the push boat Paddy. The vessels were moored at the time of the collision, according to the Coast Guard. 

“The cleanup conducted by the ITV Paddy consisted of 50 feet of containment boom and absorbent pad deployed to capture the gasoline,” Coast Guard spokesperson Alejandro Rivera said in an email. “There is no visible sheen in the water and whatever gasoline is left over will naturally dissipate.”

Authorities closed the channel for about 3.5 hours during the accident response and spill clean-up effort, Rivera said. The cause of the incident remains under investigation. 

American Jazz re-floated in Cumberland River 

The cruise ship that grounded in Kentucky along the Cumberland River and remained stuck for more than a week has re-floated. 

The unified command overseeing the salvage announced the river cruise ship American Jazz floated free at about 1530 on July 16. Salvors used a tug and barge setup and the ship’s propulsion to come off the sandbar, the Coast Guard said in a news release. 

Additional details on the salvage effort led by Donjon-SMIT were not available. 

The 269-foot ship became stuck at about 1300 on July 7 with 120 passengers and 49 crewmembers on board. The ship grounded at mile 62 within a dammed section of the river known as Lake Barkley. 

Nobody was hurt, and the ship was not damaged. The Coast Guard is investigating the grounding. More details on the grounding can be found here. 

7 8 Towboat
WPKY News photo

Safety alert warns of cargo crane failure 

Maritime authorities are warning of a crane failure on a relatively new bulker that left a mariner dead and another badly hurt. 

The Republic of the Marshall Islands issued the advisory, which the U.S. Coast Guard also distributed. Details about the specific incident, including the ship involved and the location, were not included in the notice. 

However, it notes the failure of an overhead monorail provision crane on an Ultramax bulk carrier built in 2014. 

“The monorail crane was being used to lower a load (which weighed less than 10% of the safe working load) to the berth, when the entire hoisting arrangement fell from the overhead monorail,” the alert said. 

The notice also included a series of recommendations to avoid a repeat of the fatal incident. Those can be found here. 

Casualty flashback: July 1923 

The 464-foot tanker Swiftstar set sail from Los Angeles, Calif., with nearly 80,000 barrels of crude oil. It made it through the Panama Canal but never reached its destination in Fall River, Mass. 

The ship and its 32 crew members were lost at sea, leaving numerous theories about what caused the sinking. 

The vessel sailed through the Panama Canal on July 13 and was due in Massachusetts roughly 10 days later. Nobody knows what became of the ship from there. 

Crew on the schooner Albert H. Willis spotted wreckage in the water and Swiftstar’s lifeboats near San Andres Island on July 22, 1923. Its crew also found in a floating box the charred remains of an unidentified man believed to be from the ship. 

The prevailing theory is that lightning struck the ship, killing the crewman found inside the box and causing the ship’s oil cargo to explode. The full story of what happened, however, likely will never be known. 

By Professional Mariner Staff