Maritime Casualty News, June 2014

Crewmember injured during a drill

A crewmember aboard the containership Caroline Maersk was medevaced June 21 after sustaining an injury during a drill. The U.S. Coast Guard was contacted June 20 when the ship was about 340 miles southwest of San Diego.

The 1,138-foot Caroline Maersk changed course and proceeded toward San Diego to reduce the distance for rescue personnel. The ship was met five miles off the coast by a 45-foot Response Boat.

According to the Coast Guard, the 52-year-old Filipino crewmember severely injured his hand and was transported to San Diego for medical care.

Caroline Maersk is registered in Denmark and is owned by Maersk Line. The vessel was built in 2000.

Three bodies recovered after Cal-Sag Channel collision

A towboat and a recreational vessel collided in the Cal-Sag Channel, near Palos Hills, Ill., causing at least three people to go missing.

The collision happened June 20, just before 2300. The 66-foot towboat Bill Arnold was pushing six barges when it collided with the unidentified 19-foot pleasure craft. U.S. Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan dispatched a 25-foot response boat to search for the missing crew of the pleasure craft.

Assisting in the search were Palos Hills and Lockport, Ill., fire departments with dive teams and side-scan sonar. The channel was closed to vessel traffic between mile marker 308 and 315.

According to the Coast Guard, two bodies were found the next day around 1315. The third body was recovered June 23. None of the individuals were wearing life jackets.

No pollution was reported as a result of the collision. Bill Arnold was built in 1979 and is owned by American River Transportation Co.

Hose failure causes asphalt spill in Mystic River

The 439-foot Palanca Singapore was offloading asphalt in Everett, Mass., on June 19. A hose failure caused about 11,000 gallons of liquid asphalt to spill into the Mystic River at 1530.

The ship, owned by Wisby Ship Management of Sweden, was offloading at the Exxon terminal. Exxon contracted Clean Harbors and TMC Environmental to recover the asphalt. U.S. Coast Guard investigators monitored the cleanup.

According to the Coast Guard, the asphalt solidified on the surface of the water and there was no harm to the environment.

Palanca Singapore is registered in the Marshall Islands and was built in 2013.

Fuel overflows into river during refueling

A bulk carrier was refueling on the Elizabeth River in Virginia when its tanks overflowed and spilled fuel into the river.

The June 13 incident occurred at the Norfolk Southern Coal Pier at Lambert's Point. An undetermined amount of fuel spilled from the 738-foot Ostria S. The National Response Center contacted the U.S. Coast Guard at about 1520 to report the spill.

Petty Officer 1st Class Brandyn Hill said a 3,000-foot containment boom was placed around the ship. Marine Spill Response Corp. arrived on scene for cleanup operations. The Coast Guard is investigating the cause of the spill and monitoring the cleanup efforts.

Ostria S was built in 2008, is Greek-flagged and owned by Nemesis Navigation Corp. of the Marshall Islands.

Casualty flashback: June 1904

An excursion ferry caught fire on June 15, 1904, causing the deadliest disaster in New York before 9/11.

The 236-foot General Slocum had departed at 0930 that day, chartered by St. Mark's Evangelical Lutheran Church for their annual excursion. General Slocum, built in 1891, was on the East River, heading for Locust Grove, a picnic ground on Long Island's North Shore. The fire was noticed about a half hour after departure.

The fire spread so rapidly that the six lifeboats on board were burned before the crew could get to them. Fire hoses and life jackets were rotten, rendering them useless. The fire was believed to have been started by a carelessly tossed match or cigarette that ignited a barrel of hay below deck in the forward cabin.

The captain, 68-year-old William Van Schaick, stayed at the wheel and ran General Slocum up on the shore of North Brother Island. There were 1,358 passengers aboard, mostly women and children. Many of them jumped overboard and drowned, while others perished in the fire, leaving 1,021 confirmed dead.

Capt. Van Schaick was reportedly the last person off the ship. He lost vision in one eye and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. He was pardoned four years into his sentence by President Taft.

According to the final investigative report, which was released in October 1904, “No fire drills or boat drills had taken place on the vessel this year. Fire drills had been held in the previous year, consisting of calling the crew to quarters, lowering the boats, and possibly getting the hose into position, without, however, turning on any stream of water.”

The accident was investigated by a federal commission, which revealed insufficient crew training, improper storage of flammable materials, rotted fire hose, defective life jackets and inefficient vessel inspection. The report can be viewed here:

The ferry was owned by Knickerbocker Steamboat Co. What remained of the ferry was raised and refitted into the barge Maryland.

By Professional Mariner Staff