Maritime Casualty News, November 2014

Containers fall from ship during offloading

Three containers fell from a cargo ship during offloading in California and began drifting in a nearby waterway.

The boxes fell from MV NYK Aquarius on Nov. 15 while it was unloading at the SSA Terminal. The containers were reported drifting in the Oakland estuary, a narrow water body separating Oakland from Alameda Island, at about 2030 hours.  

The Coast Guard, Alameda County Fire Department and the Oakland Fire Department set up a 500-foot safety zone around the floating containers, which did not contain hazardous materials, according to a news release. The Coast Guard escorted dinner cruise vessels back into port in Oakland until the boxes were removed.

The tugboat Patricia Ann pushed all three containers toward the dock where a waiting crane removed them from the water, the release said.

It’s not clear how the containers ended up in the water. The Coast Guard is investigating.

Coast Guard issues safety alert on fire danger in fuel modifications

The U.S. Coast Guard is urging vessel operators, particularly those with certain Detroit Diesel engines, to use proper replacement parts in the fuel system.  

A Nov. 3 safety alert was issued during an investigation into an engine fire on a passenger vessel carrying 174 people. A crewmember discovered the small fuel spray fire above one of the four engines and it was quickly put out.

The vessel was powered by four Detroit Diesel 16-cylinder high-speed engines. Each engine was comprised of two V-8 engines that were coupled together. The engines have unique engine couplings that handle fuel supply and return from injection components, the alert said.

Investigators determined these couplings had been replaced with threaded hose barb fittings and rubber hose on three of the four engines.

“One of those fuel hoses subsequently failed and sprayed fuel directly onto the main engine exhaust lagging and blankets,” the alert said. “The seam in the insulation blanket was facing towards the engine rather than away and likely provided the ignition source.”

The Coast Guard recommends operators use proper replacement parts, make sure insulation blankets fit correctly over the entire exhaust system and consider the placement of seams when installing exhaust insulation and lagging.

Coast Guard officials also urged operators using Detroit Diesel engines for propulsion or electrical generation with design configurations of 16V92, 12V92, 12V71 and 16V71 to make sure correct head-to-head couplings are in use.

To view the full text of the Coast Guard’s Safety Alert, see

To view all the latest Safety Alerts from Professional Mariner, see

Safety alert warns of danger from altering hull magnets; pilot injured

Modified hull magnets have been blamed for several injuries over the years, and U.S. Coast Guard urged operators in a Nov. 10 safety alert not to alter this equipment from its intended design.

In one recent incident, a pilot was hurt while climbing onto a vessel when a hull magnet anchoring the pilot ladder to the hull disconnected. The magnet struck the pilot in the head and caused a concussion.

“Additional incidents with injuries have occurred on other vessels at several different ports. In each of those instances the hull magnets were modified prior to the accident. Moreover, in all cases, after restoring the hull magnets to their original design no further problems were experienced,” the alert said.

The Coast Guard recommends operators inspect their vessel boarding equipment frequently to make sure it matches the manufacturer’s original design. The alert encourages pilots to ask membership associations about additional safety protocols during boarding.

To view the full text of the Coast Guard’s Safety Alert, see

To view all the latest Safety Alerts from Professional Mariner, see

Casualty flashback: November 1914

One hundred years ago this month, the steamer Hanalei grounded on a rocky shoal near Bolinas, Calif., roughly 12 miles north of the Golden Gate. Twenty-three passengers were killed and 43 were later rescued.

The 666-ton wooden vessel left Eureka, Calif., on Nov. 22, 1914, carrying building materials and 66 passengers and crew. It encountered heavy fog roughly 30 miles north of San Francisco and later ran hard aground on a portion of Duxbury Reef just before 1300 on Nov. 23.

Coast Guard crews from the Point Bonita and Fort Point Life-Saving Stations responded to the grounding, as did a nearby revenue cutter, according to a U.S. Coast Guard history of the incident. Coast Guard powerboats from nearby stations struggled to reach the stricken steamer, resulting in one capsizing.

The crews continued rescue efforts until nightfall. They began again early the next morning.

“For a distance of 200 yards off the beach, the water was literally covered with grinding, tossing material, consisting of portions of the wrecked vessel and her cargo of railroad ties and shingles,” according to the Coast Guard account. “In the midst of this flotsam, the surviving passengers and crew were battling for their lives.”

Rescue crews formed a human chain and waded into the water. For nearly four hours, they struggled to pull the survivors onto shore, the Coast Guard report said. Of the 30 people carried back to shore, 29 survived. Meanwhile, crew aboard the powerboats hauled 13 people from the water. One person was rescued by workers at a shore radio station.

The Hanalei grounding was one of seven casualties that occurred near Bolinas Point between 1906 and 1914, and the only incident in which people died. Federal officials later cited the wreck to argue for a Coast Guard station closer to Duxbury Reef. 

By Professional Mariner Staff