Maritime Casualty News, October 2018

Hurricane damages trawler at Florida shipyard

Panama City, Fla.-based Eastern Shipbuilding is still recovering from the devastation caused earlier this month by Hurricane Michael, which forced the yard to close.

The storm, which destroyed thousands of homes and businesses on the Florida Panhandle and caused at least 29 deaths, made landfall Oct. 10 as a Category 4 hurricane with winds reaching 155 mph.

The factory trawler North Star, nearing completion at Eastern, was torn from its moorings during the storm and ended up capsized on its starboard side. The 261-foot ship was set to head to Alaska next month for Seattle-based Glacier Fish Co. No estimate was available on the extent of the damage.

Meanwhile, Eastern has taken steps to support company employees affected by the storm. The yard is offering no-interest loans to workers who lost pay during the shipyard closure, and has offered temporary housing for people whose homes were damaged or destroyed.

Tank overflows, spilling fuel near Houston

Approximately 1,000 gallons of diesel escaped into the Houston Ship Channel during a fuel transfer involving a dredge.

According to the Coast Guard, the dredge Susan Crosby was taking on fuel near City Dock 45 when its tank overflowed, spilling fuel into the waterway. The incident occurred on the morning of Oct. 17.

Coast Guard crews aboard oil spill response vessels used absorbent boom to trap and remove oil from the channel. Crews also employed traffic control measures in the channel between City Docks 20 and 45 during the response.

The cause of the fueling accident is still under investigation and has not been released.

Mystery sheen reported on Columbia River

Authorities on both sides of the Columbia River are investigating a large sheen near a grain terminal in Kalama, Wash.

Crews at the TEMCO Grain Terminal and others aboard a 183-foot hopper dredge spotted the sheen on the morning of Oct. 24. The U.S. Coast Guard and environmental officials from Oregon and Washington dispatched response teams to the river.

Washington Department of Ecology personnel collected samples and tried to pinpoint the leading edge of the sheen. According to the Coast Guard, the sheen was floating downriver and had reached Longview, Wash., later that day.

“A Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from the sector conducted a follow-up overflight at around 2:45 p.m. to track (the) movement and size of the sheen and estimated the sheen was three miles long, as well as confirmed there was no longer any signs of the sheen in Kalama,” the Coast Guard said.

By the evening of Oct. 24, authorities determined the oil on the water was too thin to recover. It was dissipating in the waterway, and local agencies did not find evidence of wildlife affected by the spill.

Casualty flashback: October 1922

The newly re-christened passenger steamship City of Honolulu had a distinguished life serving two nations before its final voyage in late October 1922.

The vessel caught fire at about 0530 on Oct. 12 more than 500 miles from Los Angeles while en route to Honolulu with an unknown number of passengers and crew. Under the captain’s watch, everyone evacuated the ship into lifeboats. They were later rescued by the freighter West Faralon. The U.S. Army transport ship Thomas brought everyone back to Los Angeles about a week later.

City of Honolulu was built in 1896 in Germany and later served as a passenger liner. U.S. authorities interned the ship in 1914, later using it as an Allied troop carrier that transported more than 20,000 Americans to and from World War I in Europe.

After the war, the U.S. Mail Steamship Co. operated the ship before transferring it to the Los Angeles Steamship Co., where its time was short lived. The Coast Guard cutter Shawnee sank City of Honolulu five days after the fire.

By Professional Mariner Staff