Maritime Casualty News, June 2018

Pilot dies after gangway collapses in Corpus Christi

A pilot with the Aransas-Corpus Christi Pilots has died after a gangway reportedly collapsed while he was boarding a ship.

The accident happened at about 1330 on June 16 as Capt. Robert Louis Adams, 65, was boarding BTS Sabina. The ship was docked in La Quinta Channel at the time within the Port of Corpus Christi.

Adams was about a step away from reaching the ship when the gangway collapsed, a spokesman for the pilots told the local newspaper.

Adams and another man reportedly fell about 20 feet into the water. A good Samaritan vessel retrieved them and transferred them to shoreside emergency medical service units.

The U.S. Coast Guard is investigating the incident and has not yet released the cause.

Boston tour boat hits sailboats after mechanical failure

A passenger vessel that hit six sailboats shortly after getting underway from a Boston pier experienced a mechanical failure, according to the Coast Guard.

Odyssey had 328 people on board for a harbor cruise when the failure occurred at about 1100 on June 21, near Rowes Wharf. No one was injured, and there was no pollution or significant vessel damage from the accident, the Coast Guard said.

Capt. Claudia Gelzer, Sector Boston captain of the port, said the service is investigating the incident and has not determined the cause of the mechanical problem. Local media described it as an engine failure.

Odyssey Boston, the tour company that operates the boat, issued a statement citing its “exemplary” safety record during the past 30 years of operation in the city.

Laker runs aground in Duluth-Superior Harbor

The Great Lakes freighter American Spirit ran aground in Duluth-Superior Harbor near Duluth, Minn., and remained stuck for almost seven hours.

The Coast Guard said the 1,004-foot ship grounded at about 1530 on June 17 while departing with a load of taconite. It was attempting to turn out of the harbor at the time. It floated free at about 2200 and sailed to the Husky Fuel dock with an assist tug.

Authorities briefly established a safety zone around the vessel, and teams inspected the interior and exterior of the hull to check for damage. No injuries were reported. The cause of the incident is still under investigation.

The American Steamship Co. of Williamsville, N.Y., operates the ship. It is primarily used to carry ore pellets on the Great Lakes.

Scrap metal barge catches fire in Seattle

A barge loaded with crushed cars caught fire while moored at a Seattle dock, and at least two of the vehicles fell overboard into the Duwamish Waterway.

The 120-foot vessel was moored at Seattle Iron & Metals Corp. when the fire started at about 2000 on June 26. Land-based fire crews could not reach the barge, and the fireboat Leschi arrived about 30 minutes after the emergency call, Westside Seattle reported.

The news organization published photos showing several columns of stacked vehicles on fire. The flames, which were concentrated near the starboard bow, put out thick black smoke. The barge also was damaged, according to Westside Seattle.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Casualty flashback: June 1978

The dinner cruise boat Whippoorwill Showboat was underway on Pomona Lake in Kansas in June 1978 when a tornado touched down and overturned the paddlewheeler.

Fifteen people died and six others were injured in the accident, which happened at about 1900 on June 17. The victims drowned, although the National Weather Service attributed the deaths to the tornado, making it one of the deadliest in the state’s history.

“The tornado formed very rapidly around 7 p.m., (then) cut an erratic but generally eastward path about eight miles long before dissipating near the small community of Michigan Valley,” the weather service said of the incident. “Witnesses sighted three funnels rotating around the main vortex, which itself was no more than about 150 yards wide.”

The National Transportation Safety Board later said the vessel did not meet Coast Guard stability requirements — nor was it required to because Pomona Lake is not considered a navigable waterway. The agency determined wind speeds of 25 knots or more could have overturned the vessel on the night of the accident. The waterspout had peripheral winds of about 50 knots.

“If the Whippoorwill had met the Coast Guard stability requirements, it would have been able to withstand a wind speed of up to 54 knots without capsizing,” the NTSB said. “Therefore, the safety board concluded that … based on its carriage of passengers and crew and its operation in an area where severe storms are common, it may not have capsized.”

By Professional Mariner Staff