Maritime Casualty News, September 2013

Costa Concordia hoisted to upright position

The 952-foot half-submerged cruise ship Costa Concordia was slowly pulled upright in a 19-hour salvage operation on Sept. 16. Costa Concordia capsized off the Italian island of Giglio 20 months ago, on Jan. 13, 2012, in a disaster that killed 32 people.

The procedure of pulling the ship upright, known as parbuckling, was completed using more than 50 giant chains and winches, according to the BBC. Caissons full of water were attached to the sides of the vessel to help stabilize it, and will eventually be emptied of the water to give the ship flotation so it can be towed away.

The salvage is a joint operation between Titan Salvage, owned by Crowley Maritime Corp., and the Italian marine contractor Micoperi. The salvage has cost over $800 million so far.

Costa Concordia now rests on a platform that was constructed on the sea floor. Live coverage of the parbuckling project was recorded and condensed into a time-lapse video by Reuters, and can be viewed here:


Crewmember medevaced after falling 75 feet

A crewmember aboard the 738-foot bulk carrier Cinzia D’Amato was medevaced Sept. 11 after falling about 75 feet from the vessel’s exhaust stack.

The Italian-flagged cargo ship was en route from Japan to California and the medevac took place 117 miles from Adak, Alaska. According to a U.S. Coast Guard press release, Coast Guard 17th District Command Center watchstanders received the medevac request at 0350.

An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew rendezvoused with Cinzia D’Amato and safely hoisted the man aboard and transported him to awaiting emergency medical personnel in Adak who then transferred him to Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage. The Coast Guard reported 28 to 46 mph winds, 16-foot seas and rain near Adak. The 21-year-old Italian crewmember suffered severe internal injuries.        

Cinzia D’Amato is owned by Perseveranza SpA di Navigazione of Naples, Italy. The vessel was built in 2008.


Molasses spill kills thousands of fish off Hawaii

On Sept. 9, 223,000 gallons of molasses spilled in Honolulu Harbor when a pipeline burst while transferring molasses from a shore-side tank to a ship. Molasses is heavier than water, so it settled on the sea floor, smothering marine life in the area. An estimated 26,000 fish were killed.

The pipeline is owned by Matson Inc. State officials in Hawaii had noticed a small leak months earlier, but nothing was done to correct it because Matson couldn’t locate the leak.

According to U.S. News, “Federal and state officials have largely relied on natural water currents and weather to dilute and flush the molasses out of the harbor and a nearby lagoon.” An incident command post was established and comprised of representatives from the Hawaii Department of Health, Department of Land and Natural Resources, Department of Transportation, Matson, Coast Guard, Environmental Protection Agency, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

A U.S. Coast Guard press release stated that the Molasses Release Honolulu Harbor Incident Command Post concluded response operations Sept. 20 after a helicopter overflight did not observe any molasses. Water samples taken by the incident command indicated oxygen levels in Honolulu Harbor and Keehi Lagoon are returning to normal.         

Matson has said it will fully pay for cleanup and other costs resulting from the disaster, NPR reported. Matson ships molasses from Hawaii to the mainland about once a week.


Casualty flashback: September 1994

On Sept. 28, 1994, the German-built ferry Estonia sank in the Baltic Sea. The 515-foot ferry was on a scheduled crossing with departure at 1900 from Tallinn, Estonia, on Sept. 27, and was expected in Stockholm, Sweden, the next morning at about 0930. There were 989 people aboard, including 803 passengers and 186 crew.

At 1245, banging noises came from Estonia's bow visor, which had detached, allowing the waves to fill the ship’s vehicle deck with seawater. Just after 0100 the vessel heeled more than 40 degrees to starboard and was completely submerged shortly before 0200. As a result, 852 people were killed. The rapid increase in the list contributed to the large loss of life. The crew did not launch any of the 10 lifeboats; nine broke loose when the vessel sank, but 137 people were able to survive.

A final disaster report was issued in December 1997 by the Joint Accident Investigation Commission of Estonia, Finland and Sweden. According to the report, the weather was rough with 13-foot seas.

The subsequent failure of Estonia’s bow ramp allowed water onto the vehicle deck, which was listed as the main cause of the sinking. Ro-ro ferries with wide vehicle decks are vulnerable to capsizing if the car deck is even slightly flooded because of the free surface effect: the water's swirling motion across such a large area hampers the boat's ability to right itself after rolling with a wave.

According to the final report, recommendations for modifications to be applied to similar vessels included indicator alarms "on the navigation bridge for all shell doors, loading doors and other closing appliances for doors which, if left open, could lead to flooding of roar cargo space."

The wreck was examined by remotely operated underwater vehicles and by divers from the Norwegian company Rockwater A/S.

Estonia was built in 1980 at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany. At the time of the sinking, the ferry was owned by the Cyprus company Estline Marine Company Ltd. Estline chartered the vessel to the Estonian company E-Line Ltd. As a result the ship was registered in both Cyprus and Estonia. On Dec. 15, 1994, the Swedish government decided not to salvage Estonia.

By Professional Mariner Staff