TSB warns industry of potential bearing failure in onboard cranes

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) has issued a warning to vessel owners around the world following a catastrophic failure on a cargo-handling crane aboard the bulk carrier Seapace.

A crane operator was injured aboard Seapace in Bécancour, Quebec, on Aug. 13, 2014. The TSB said cargo crane No. 4 failed aboard the 623-foot, 33,036-gt vessel, which was built in 2010 and is registered in Malta. 

The slewing ring bearing broke apart and the complete cabin and jib assemblies collapsed into a cargo hold, the TSB’s statement said. The operator suffered a broken ankle. The Canadian agency is participating in the investigation with Transport Malta’s Marine Safety Investigation Unit.

“There is a possibility that the same progressive failure of a slewing ring bearing will occur on any vessel fitted with similar cargo-handling cranes,” the TSB warning said in November.

The TSB noted that while it has asked the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) to share information about the safety risks, there is no known central database of such vessel owners. Therefore the TSB decided to communicate the message about the crane failure in an effort to reach vessel owners.

Seapace is one of a series of 443 sister ships that were constructed between 2008 and 2014 by various shipyards in China. 

The TSB wrote that the cargo-handling crane was built for Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries Co. Ltd. (IHI) of Japan, under license by Wuhan Marine Machinery Plant Co. Ltd. (WMMP) of China. It was an electro-hydraulic jib crane of the slim type SS36T (serial number DC09-11102-4). The slewing ring bearing assembly was fabricated by Dalian Metallurgical Bearing Co. Ltd. of China under the standard JB/T2300 of the type 133.34.2300.00.03. The two-row roller slewing ring bearing with internal gear carries serial number D00984. 

“Vessel owners should take whatever measures considered appropriate to ensure the integrity of any similar unit in service on board vessels,” the TSB wrote.

The TSB would appreciate being advised of any measures implemented, either by phone at 1-800-387-3557, or by email at communications@bst-tsb.gc.ca

Seapace’s owner/manager, Thenamaris of Greece, didn’t reply to an email request for comment.

By Professional Mariner Staff