Maritime Casualty News, November 2018

Fifteen rescued from listing lift boat off Louisiana

Fifteen people were rescued from a lift boat that lost power and developed a 45-degree list while working near Grand Isle, La.

Crew aboard Ram XVIII reported the incident to the Coast Guard at about 0316 on Nov. 18. The master said the vessel, owned by Aries Marine Corp., lost power and could not correct the list itself, the service reported in a news release. The lift boat also began taking on water.

The Coast Guard dispatched a response helicopter and boat teams, and the crew boat Starfleet Guardian, operated by Starfleet Marine, diverted to the listing vessel. Starfleet Guardian embarked six people from the lift boat, and a Coast Guard vessel initially took the other nine aboard. The crew boat then transferred all 15 back to land.

Ram XVIII had nearly 14,000 gallons of diesel on board, but there were no reports of any fuel spilling. A metal tub filled with soap fell overboard as the vessel listed, creating a hazard to navigation, the Coast Guard said.

Investigators from the Coast Guard are still trying to determine the cause of the incident.

Dredge tender sinks in Charleston Harbor

Investigators are trying to determine why a dredge tender capsized and sank in the Cooper River in Charleston Harbor, S.C.

Crewmembers aboard a Great Lakes Dredge & Dock (GLDD) survey boat located the submerged 25-foot steel workboat Miss Anne on Nov. 18. The vessel reportedly sank about 12 hours earlier while repositioning equipment for the dredge Brunswick, according to the Coast Guard. All three people aboard the workboat escaped to safety.

Officials initially weren’t sure where the workboat went down. The Coast Guard, vessel operator Southern Dredging, GLDD, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineering and local authorities were among the agencies that searched for the vessel. During that time, the Coast Guard established a safety zone that included much of the waterway.

Once the vessel was found, the captain of the port in Charleston revised the safety zone to include the immediate vicinity of the sunken workboat.

Coast Guard launches formal inquiry into Sunshine Bridge strike

The Coast Guard has convened a formal investigation into an Oct. 12 incident in which a crane on a barge struck the Sunshine Bridge over the Mississippi River at St. James Parish, La. The bridge has been closed to traffic ever since.

The towboat Kristin Alexis was pushing a barge-mounted crane upriver when it struck the bridge at about 0245, damaging a load-bearing beam. Damon Judd, president of vessel owner Marquette Transportation, called the bridge strike “a very unfortunate incident.”

The company also apologized for the accident, which has led to lengthy detours for the 25,000 vehicles that use the bridge daily. Sunshine Bridge links Ascension and St. James parishes roughly halfway between New Orleans and Baton Rouge.

The Coast Guard said its investigators have been working on the case since the bridge strike occurred. The formal investigation will examine “all aspects” of the incident “to identify any unsafe conditions which may have contributed to the casualty. The team will also identify any recommended actions to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future,” the Coast Guard said.

Louisiana officials say the bridge could reopen by New Year’s Day.

Casualty flashback: November 1913

The freighter SS James Carruthers loaded 375,000 bushels of wheat at a Michigan dock, then sailed into Lake Huron en route to Midland, Ontario. Another ship following a similar heading lost sight of the freighter at about dawn on Nov. 9.

That was the last time anyone saw Carruthers, which sank in what is known as the Great Lakes Storm of 1913. The 550-foot ship, with 22 mariners aboard, was on its maiden voyage.

The storm is considered the most destructive natural disaster ever on the Great Lakes. It destroyed 19 ships and is blamed for 250 deaths. Accounts from the time described 90-mph wind gusts, 35-foot waves and whiteout conditions.

Residents in Inverhuron, Ontario, reported seeing distress flares and hearing a steam whistle on the afternoon of Nov. 9 when the storm was raging. Most observers believe those flares came from the missing ship.

Wreckage from the vessel began washing ashore on Nov. 10 near the Ontario town of Kincardine, just south of Inverhuron. Bodies from several crew also were found wearing heavy coats and life jackets.

The location of the wreckage is noteworthy, because it suggests the ship was significantly off course and missed a turn into Georgian Bay, where Midland is located.

By Professional Mariner Staff