NTSB cites bank effect in South Carolina pier strike

(WASHINGTON) — A pilot maneuvering a tanker too close to a bank before a turn on the Cooper River led to the collapse of a 300-foot section of pier at Joint Base Charleston’s Naval Weapons Station in South Carolina, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said Tuesday.

The 600-foot Bow Triumph struck Naval Weapons Station Pier B while transiting the Joint Base Charleston Channel on Sept. 5, 2022. A Charleston Branch Pilots Association pilot was navigating the vessel, which sustained significant damage to the bow. The contact resulted in $29.5 million in damage. No pollution or injuries were reported.

Bow Triumph at the Odfjell Terminal in Charleston, S.C., on Sept. 8, 2022, showing damage to the vessel’s starboard side. U.S. Coast Guard photo

After making a right turn onto Range D of the channel, the pilot maneuvered the tanker closer to the left bank as he approached the next turn, a left turn around a bend. The maneuver caused the vessel to experience bank effect – when a ship’s bow is pushed away from the bank and the stern is pulled toward the bank while transiting in confined waters. The pilot’s subsequent rudder and engine orders could not overcome the bank effect and the tanker struck the pier, which was on the opposite side of the river.

“Hydrodynamic forces reduce rudder effectiveness (squat and shallow water effect) and yaw the bow away from the closest bank and pull the stern in (bank effect),” the report said. “When maneuvering in shallow waters such as channels, shoaling can reduce the water depth below charted or expected, and therefore exacerbate the forces on a vessel. Bank effect can have an undesired effect on vessels, even for the most experienced ship handlers. Pilots, masters and other vessel operators should consider the risks in areas known for shoaling when planning transits.”

The NTSB also is investigating a Jan. 14 contact between the tanker Hafnia Amessi and Pier B after the tanker attempted the same turn at the bend. The investigation is ongoing.

Click here to read the complete report on the Bow Triumph incident.

– National Transportation Safety Board

By Professional Mariner Staff