Maritime Casualty News, March 2020

Coast Guard: CBD products could cause positive drug test

The U.S. Coast Guard has issued a safety advisory warning mariners that products containing hemp or cannabidiol (CBD) can cause positive tests for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive compound in marijuana.

The service also made clear that a positive test stemming from the use of these products will not be considered an acceptable excuse. 

“For these reasons, mariners wishing to avoid a positive THC drug test result should exercise extreme caution when considering the use of any hemp or CBD product, because such use could result in the loss of their merchant mariner credential and immediate removal from safety-sensitive duties aboard a vessel,” the Coast Guard said.

CBD products are marketed to help with sleep, pain relief, arthritis and other medical issues common among mariners. They can be taken orally or applied to the skin.

The safety advisory, issued last month, warns that CBD and hemp products marketed as THC-free may still contain it in some cases. The advisory also notes that CBD and hemp products are not regulated by the Federal Drug Administration. 

“As a result, mariners using these products put themselves at risk of having a THC-positive drug test result. It remains unacceptable for any U.S. Coast Guard-credentialed mariner or other safety-sensitive worker working aboard a vessel that is subject to U.S. Coast Guard drug testing regulations to use THC,” the advisory concludes. 

The full advisory can be seen here

Loaded freighter grounds near Green Bay

The Coast Guard is investigating the grounding of a Canada-flagged bulk carrier that ran aground and became stuck while transiting into Green Bay, Wis. 

The 740-foot Algoma Conveyor grounded on the morning of March 19, the Coast Guard said. The bulker, loaded with road salt and en route to the Fox River Terminal, came to rest partially outside the channel. There were no reports of injuries or pollution. 

The vessel, owned by Algoma Central Corp., remained in place through at least March 25. State and federal authorities were working on a salvage plan.

Casualty flashback: March 1922

The 92-foot Omar D. Conger carried passengers between Port Huron, Mich., and Sarnia, Ontario, for two generations. Its run came to a tragic end on March 26,1922. 

There were four crew aboard the 800-passenger steamer when it exploded. All four perished in the fiery blast, which occurred as the steamer Cheboygan prepared to dock alongside the vessel. Omar D. Conger was docked in Black River, south of downtown Port Huron, ahead of its afternoon departure to Sarnia across the St. Clair River.

Conger’s boiler fires were lit, but water levels were dangerously low,” the Sarnia Historical Society reported. “When one of the crew opened a valve and allowed cold water to rush into the overheated boiler, the result was sudden, tragic and spectacular.

“A blast shook the entire waterfront and blew the ferry to smithereens. Massive chunks of boiler, deck plate and engine rocketed into the air,” the historical society said. “The powerful concussion shattered windows all across the dock area and knocked people to the ground.”

The blast damaged several other nearby vessels. It also launched debris throughout the area, causing a nearby house to burn down. 

For additional details about the incident, visit the Sarnia Historical Society here.

By Professional Mariner Staff