Misjudgment of wind, currents cited as bulk carrier strikes pier

Sanko Phoenix, a 622-foot bulk
carrier, struck a pier in Rensselaer,
N.Y., as the ship was being turned
 in the Hudson River.
There were no indications
of mechanical
failures aboard the ship.
Courtesy U.S. Coast Guard

A miscalculation of the effects of wind and current appears to be the cause for a bulk carrier striking a fuel depot pier in Rensselaer, N.Y., on New Year’s Eve, the U.S. Coast Guard says.

Sanko Phoenix, a 622-foot Liberian-flagged bulk carrier owned by Connecticut-based Sanko Kisen USA, caused more than $1.3 million in damage and lost business to the Getty Rensselaer facility, according to the investigating officer, Lt. Marie Castillo-Bletso. There were no injuries or pollution.

There was no immediate evidence of mechanical failures. The incident occurred at about 1230 when the vessel tried to turn around in the Hudson River. Sanko Phoenix , built in 1997, encountered a 2-knot southerly current and 3-knot wind from the northwest.

“They had offloaded gypsum at a facility in Albany," said Castillo-Bletso, who had not yet filed her final report in early February. “The river in that area is approximately 750 feet wide so what they had to do was after offloading the cargo they had to go north to the turning basin. The turning basin gives them an additional 500 feet of space to turn the vessel. As the vessel was trying to turn, the current took them and they found themselves unable to control the turn."

“They ran out of room and initially hit the Port of Albany pier slightly with the bulbous bow," she continued. “The pilot took the necessary action to mitigate the damage so they basically just glanced a couple of the pilings so there was no significant damage. But when they tried to prevent the ship from moving forward, they reversed and hit the Getty facility pier."

Castillo-Bletso said, “They had significant damage to the pier." She said the physical damage to the fuel facility amounted to $360,000. In addition, “they had to shut down operations because vessels couldn’t moor there," costing the facility about $1 million in lost revenue.

The ship suffered only scrapes and dings, the worst being a 1.6-inch indentation near the stern on the port side, she said.

The ship stopped briefly and then the Coast Guard instructed it to proceed south to avoid blocking the river, she said. There was a crew of 20 and one pilot aboard. There was no evidence of drug or alcohol use, the investigator said.

The owners of the ship and pier and the Hudson River Pilots Association, which represents the pilot, declined to comment.

By Professional Mariner Staff