Maritime Casualty News, June 2020

Ill-advised passing attempt cited in boxship collision 

A Tokyo Bay collision involving multiple containerships, one a U.S.-flagged vessel, stemmed from an ill-advised passing attempt in an area without sufficient space for the maneuver, according to U.S. investigators.

The Antigua and Barbuda-flagged Marcliff was outbound from Tokyo when it collided with the inbound APL Guam, registered in the United States. Marcliff then struck Hansa Steinburg, a Liberia-flagged boxship anchored nearby. Total damage from the incident, which occurred at 2327 on March 21, 2019, reached nearly $1.2 million, according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). 

Marcliff abruptly turned south-southeast as APL Guam approached. The course change reportedly took bridge crew aboard APL Guam by surprise and brought Marcliff toward APL Guam’s position. 

“Because APL Guam and Marcliff were in a crossing situation and APL Guam was on the starboard side of Marcliff, by international convention, Marcliff was required to keep out of the way of APL Guam and avoid crossing ahead of it,” the NTSB said in its report. “The master ordered a 10-degree turn to port about one minute before the collision, but Marcliff should have altered course to starboard to avoid crossing ahead of APL Guam.

“A turn to starboard,” the report continued, “would have been predictable by APL Guam’s pilot and bridge team and resulted in a port-to-port meeting between the vessels. Thus, the master’s turn to port (and his stated intention to pass starboard to starboard) would have been unexpected by the pilot and bridge team on APL Guam.”

Investigators further noted there was insufficient space for both APL Guam and Marcliff to pass between the anchored Hansa Steinburg and another anchored vessel, the tanker Shinsei Maru

“Investigators estimate that the total distance between Hansa Steinburg and the anchored Shinsei Maru was about 4.5 cables — wide enough for only one vessel to pass between the two while maintaining more than 2 cables’ separation on either side,” the report said. A cable is one-tenth of a nautical mile.

Lack of communication between the bridge teams aboard both APL Guam and Marcliff contributed to the incident, investigators said.

More details on the incident and a link to the accident report can be found here

Salvage underway for containers lost off Hawaii

Efforts are underway in Hawaii to locate and remove containers that fell from a cargo barge this week near Hilo Harbor on the island of Hawaii.

The Coast Guard reported 21 containers fell overboard from the barge Ho Omaka Hou during its approach to Hilo before dawn on June 22. The barge was being towed by the tugboat Hoko Lua. Crews aboard the Young Brothers tug realized the 40-foot containers were missing when the vessels reached Hilo. 

Authorities located nine containers later that day, eight of which were about 8 miles north of Hilo Harbor. The ninth was found in Hilo Harbor. Twelve other containers have not been found. Cates Marine is searching for the containers on Young Brothers’ behalf, the Coast Guard said in a news release. 

The Coast Guard reported 4-foot waves and easterly winds at 12 mph at the time the containers went missing.

Young Brothers transports cargo between Hawaiian islands from its hub in Honolulu Harbor. Its barges carry vehicles, construction materials and equipment, household items and personal property. The missing containers are not believed to be carrying hazardous materials. 

The Coast Guard is investigating the incident, and Young Brothers is conducting its own inquiry to determine what happened. 

Casualty flashback: June 1913

The five-masted schooner Paul Palmer offloaded coal in Bangor, Maine, before departing for Virginia’s coal piers on June 13, 1913. The ship caught fire and burned to the waterline two days later while sailing off Cape Cod. 

The fire occurred while the 276-foot vessel was in a busy shipping lane. Several vessels responded, but efforts to save Paul Palmer weren’t successful. Its crew abandoned the burning vessel into a waiting good Samaritan craft. The cause of the fire was not disclosed, and it is not clear if authorities ever determined the origin.

The ship, built 12 years earlier in Waldoboro, Maine, was primarily involved in the coal trade, according to a 2007 article from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) noting the wreck’s inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places. Paul Palmer also moved ice, railroad ties and sugar during its 12 years in operation. It was part of William F. Palmer’s fleet of schooners carrying bulk cargoes along the East Coast, Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, NOAA said. 

Paul Palmer also was the lone five-masted ship working on the East Coast lost to fire. Years earlier, it barely escaped a similar fate after a fire swept through the docks in East Boston while Paul Palmer was alongside. Tugboats pulled the ship to safety, according to NOAA. 

By Professional Mariner Staff