Maritime Casualty News, September 2018

Coast Guard addresses gangway safety after fatal accident

The U.S. Coast Guard has issued a safety alert urging caution when using pilot ladders and gangways following a collapse in Texas that fatally injured a pilot.

“At all times, if there is any question about the safety of a gangway, do not cross it,” the service said in the Aug. 21 alert. “Do not assume that any gangway crossing is ‘routine.’”

Capt. Robert L. Adams died after the gangway he was climbing collapsed at 1330 on June 16 in Ingleside, Texas. The Coast Guard and other entities are still investigating the accident.

The safety alert acknowledges ships have myriad equipment that can cause serious injury or death, making gangways and pilot ladders appear benign in comparison. However, the Coast Guard warned mariners against this type of complacency.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the International Maritime Organization and industry groups have published safety regulations and best practices for gangway use, and the Coast Guard recommends that mariners, shipowners and managers review these sources.

“For vessel pilots, crews, vendors, or anyone boarding or departing a vessel, condition yourself to take a moment to examine the gangway, accommodation or pilot ladder,” the alert said. “Look for potential hazards or deficiencies, and report them to senior personnel on board the vessel.”

Click here to view the full alert.

Tug crewman presumed dead after falling overboard

A crewman last seen on a tugboat on the Mississippi River near Donaldson, La., on Aug. 30 is missing and presumed dead after falling overboard.

The man, who was not identified by the Coast Guard or in local media reports, was working aboard CSS Richmond when the incident occurred at mile marker 183 at about 0930. He was last seen wearing an orange life vest.

Local police and Coast Guard air and boat patrols searched for the man for more than 18 hours, covering 46 square miles of river and shore.

CSS Richmond is a twin-screw, 1,000-hp fleet tug owned by Carline’s Geismar Fleet of Gonzales, La. The company did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on the incident.

Cruise ship loses power off Cape Cod

A cruise ship bound for New York lost power in Vineyard Sound near Cuttyhunk Island, Mass., and tugboats later escorted the vessel to Newport, R.I., for an inspection.

Authorities were notified at about 1520 on Sept. 7 that the 438-foot Star Pride was disabled off Cuttyhunk with 191 passengers and 160 crew. Crew anchored outside the channel and restored power by about 1700, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard and the Buzzards Bay Task Force dispatched vessels to the ship’s location before its departure for Newport.

The cause of the mechanical problem has not been disclosed. The Coast Guard is still investigating the incident.

Casualty flashback: September 1949

One of the worst shipping disasters on the Great Lakes occurred on Sept. 17, 1949, aboard the passenger liner Noronic.

The 362-foot vessel was docked in Toronto with 524 passengers and 170 crew as part of a weeklong pleasure cruise around the region. A passenger smelled smoke at about 0130 and reportedly traced it to a locked linen closet.

The fire rapidly grew, and desperate crew did everything they could to awaken passengers and get them off the ship, according to published accounts of the tragedy. People climbed down ropes, jumped onto the dock and into Lake Ontario to escape the flames. Casualty totals vary, but Canadian authorities indicate 119 people died. Most victims were American.

The cause of the fire was never determined, although an errant cigarette is considered a likely source of ignition. The incident led to stricter safety regulations on the Great Lakes and hastened the decline of passenger shipping activity, according to a historical marker in Toronto commemorating the tragedy.

By Professional Mariner Staff