Maritime Casualty News October 2021

Severe weather can emerge rapidly, Coast Guard warns

The U.S. Coast Guard is warning mariners to exercise vigilance against severe weather, particularly strong storms that can emerge suddenly.

The agency issued a safety alert spurred by a series of serious incidents where weather was a factor. The list of incidents included the liftboat SEACOR Power capsizing in April, the drillship Noble Globetrotter II damaged during Hurricane Ida in August, and the sinking of the tour boat Stretch Duck 7 in 2018 near Branson, Mo., that left 17 people dead.

“If you are not ready for heavy weather or rapid changes in weather, you and your vessel may suffer devastating consequences,” the service said in an Oct. 26 safety alert.

“Heavy weather events or rapid changes in weather can be even more severe if you do not know about the approaching conditions,” the alert continued. “Operating on the water may provide a clear view of approaching weather, but it is not always indicative of the severity of a storm.”

The Coast Guard acknowledged weather forecasting has improved, along with weather equipment available for commercial and recreational vessels. But the availability of additional information can also add complexity to a forecast and its potential to impact a particular area.

The service issued a series of recommendations and outlined the limitations of various forecasting tools. The full safety alert can be viewed here.


Containers fall overboard, others burn on ship off Canada 

At least 100 containers fell off a containership roughly 40 miles from the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and others that remained on the ship later caught fire and burned.  

The containers fell overboard when the ship heeled 35 degrees in heavy swells late on Oct. 21 or early on Oct. 22. At least two containers were loaded with hazardous cargo, the U.S. Coast Guard said, and at least one box has since washed up on Canadian shores.  

Meanwhile, on Oct. 23, authorities learned multiple containers were on fire aboard the ship as it anchored about five miles off Victoria, British Columbia, the Coast Guard said in a news release. The fire was confined to a single row of cargo.    

Authorities have not discussed the cause of the fire and the case is still developing. More details from the Coast Guard’s initial release can be found here 


Casualty flashback: October 1905 

The wooden steamship SS Kaliyuga was built in 1887 to haul iron ore on the Great Lakes, which it did until its sinking in October 1905 with all 16 hands.  

The 270-foot ship got underway from Marquette, Mich., on Oct. 18, 1905 for Erie, Pa. It passed through the Soo Locks early on Oct. 19 as winds picked up on Lake Huron.  

The ship was spotted several times over the course of the day, but eventually disappeared and sank. The cause has never been determined.  

Pieces of the ship were spotted by a passing freighter in Georgian Bay on Oct. 26, and the bodies of several crewmen were recovered. The body of oiler Charles Beaugrand was found near Kincardine, Ontario, and it contained a notebook with a goodbye message to his family.  

There are multiple theories about what caused the sinking, although the most widely accepted attribute the incident to weather. The wreckage has not been found.

By Professional Mariner Staff