NTSB faults master, bridge officers in Orange Sun collision

The following is the text of a press release issued by the National Transportation Safety Board:
(WASHINGTON) — The National Transportation Safety Board has determined that the probable cause of the January 24, 2008 allision of the MV Orange Sun with the dredge New York was the master’s failure to appropriately use bridge resource management and to communicate; specifically, to familiarize his bridge crew with and inform the pilot of the vessel’s occasional tendency to sheer, a characteristic that he had personally experienced.
Contributing to the accident were the inappropriate starboard rudder movements made by both the helmsman and the master, which interfered with the pilot’s ability to take appropriate action to prevent the accident. Also contributing was the second officer’s failure to accomplish his primary duty as officer of the watch, which was to properly monitor the helmsman, the Board found.
The 672-foot-long Liberia-registered fruit juice carrier Orange Sun, operated by the Swiss shipping line Atlanship, struck the dredge New York while the juice carrier was outbound under pilotage in Newark Bay, New Jersey. The dredge was moored off the main shipping channel and about to begin dredging operations. The Orange Sun’s navigation watch consisted of a docking pilot, a master, a second officer, and a helmsman. About 25 minutes into the transit, as the Orange Sun approached the dredge, the pilot ordered a slight alteration of course and a speed reduction. The helmsman experienced difficulty trying to steady the ship on the ordered course. He and the master then made several wheel inputs to try to correct the vessel’s heading, including some that the pilot had not ordered. The actions by the helmsman and the master allowed the ship to sheer towards the dredge and strike it. No one was injured in the accident.
After the accident, the master informed the pilot that he had previously experienced similar problems while maneuvering the Orange Sun.
As a result of this accident, the Safety Board made a recommendation to Atlanship to provide its officers recurrent training in the principles of bridge resource management that encourage and emphasize correct and unambiguous communication, information management, role responsibility, and contingency planning.
A summary of the findings of the Board’s report is available on the NTSB’s website at http://www.ntsb.gov/publictn/2009/MAR0903.htm.
By Professional Mariner Staff