Tanker loses power, hits pier when anchor fails to deploy

An oil tanker heading to a berth for routine maintenance lost propulsion and struck a pier at South Boston’s Conley Terminal, damaging a 50-foot section of the structure, the U.S. Coast Guard reported.

The 598-foot Baltic Commander I was en route from the Global Revere Terminal in Chelsea Creek to Black Falcon Terminal at 1005 on Dec. 31, 2008, when an engine problem resulted in a loss of power, said Lt. Stephen West of Coast Guard Sector Boston.

“They had a cylinder (in the main engine) that malfunctioned," West said. “The pilot attempted to bring the vessel astern and it didn’t respond. He tried two more times, then gave the order to drop anchor."

The anchor didn’t drop, however, for reasons the Coast Guard could not specify, and the pilot had to make a decision about where the drifting ship would come ashore, West said. Snowfall limited visibility to about one mile in 20-knot winds.
“He actually did a good job, hitting an older part of the pier," West said.

No injuries were reported and there was no environmental damage. West said the tanker was empty, but containment booms were placed as a precaution.

Lisa Langone, media relations manager for the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport), said representatives of Baltic Commander I and Massport were evaluating the cost of damage to the pier. The tanker, chartered by Magimar Shipping Co. Ltd. of Cyprus, sustained a small dent on its starboard bow that did not require immediate repair.

West said two tugboats that were assisting Baltic Commander I on its way to Black Falcon Terminal were configured to help the ship make a right turn, so they weren’t in position to slow it when its engine malfunctioned. Two more tugs responded to pull the ship from the pier and escort it.

No problems were reported with the engine before the accident and the tanker was able to proceed forward and astern afterward, West said.
By Professional Mariner Staff