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Casualty briefs

Dec 1, 2017 11:23 AM

Quebec tug catches fire after mechanical problem
Canada’s Transportation Safety Board (TSB) is investigating a fire aboard a tugboat operating on the St. Lawrence River near Port Cartier, Quebec.

The 99-foot Brochu sustained a mechanical failure followed by a fire in the engine room while towing the bulk carrier AM Tubarao at about 0435 on Sept. 15. Melissa St.-Jean, TSB regional senior investigator, said the tug returned to port under its own power, where firefighters extinguished the fire.

The fire and the mechanical issue that preceded it are still under investigation. St.-Jean said it also was too soon to share details about the crew’s fire response. Overall damage to the 3,600-hp tugboat also was not available.

St.-Jean said the investigation team examined the vessel, photographed key components and interviewed witnesses and company personnel. However, as of late September the inquiry was “still in the data-collection phase.”

European steel giant ArcelorMittal owns the 44-year-old tugboat. The company did not respond to inquiries on the incident.

The towboat Miss Pat is raised after sinking Sept. 24 at a Mississippi River fleeting area near Greenville, Miss. The Coast Guard said the Wepfer marine vessel sank "for unknown reasons."

Courtesy U.S. Coast Guard

Fleet towboat sinks in Mississippi River
A towboat carrying about 2,000 gallons of fuel sank at a Mississippi River fleeting area, and the U.S. Coast Guard is trying to determine what caused the accident.

Wepfer Marine notified the Coast Guard at about 2230 on Sept. 24 that its fleet boat Miss Pat sank alongside a Lake Ferguson fleeting area. The accident occurred at mile marker 538 near Greenville, Miss. According to the Coast Guard, the vessel sank “for unknown reasons.”

A Coast Guard spokesman would not answer key questions about the incident, including whether the vessel was underway at the time and how many crew were on board. Authorities laid boom around the towboat, and initial reports suggested there was no pollution.

Photos of the salvage show the vessel partially submerged with its push knees above the water. Wepfer Marine of Memphis, Tenn., operated Miss Pat. The Coast Guard referred questions to the company, which did not respond to a request for comment.

Petcoke bulker grounds near New Brunswick port
A Marshall Islands-flagged bulk carrier carrying a load of petroleum coke grounded early on Oct. 11 near Belledune, New Brunswick after a voyage from Newport News, Va.

Pierre Murray of the Transportation Safety Board of Canada said SBI Carioca grounded at 0800 about a mile east of Belledune. The vessel did not breach, according to initial reports. No injuries were reported.

The 751-foot ship was carrying 65,000 metric tons of petcoke. It refloated with the tide at about 2200 later that day with assistance from two tugboats. The cause of the accident is under investigation, Murray said.

SBI Carioca is part of the Offen Group fleet. The company, based in Hamburg, Germany, did not respond to a request for comment.

Transmission maintenance cited in San Diego pier strike
An excursion boat operator’s failure to follow the recommended maintenance schedule was a primary factor in a 2016 allision at the Navy Pier in San Diego, Calif., the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said.

The 143-foot Adventure Hornblower was returning to the dock at about 1300 on March 31 from a whale-watching trip when it unexpectedly moved to starboard, hit a passenger dock and accelerated forward into the seawall. Eight people were injured and the accident caused about $1 million in damage to the vessel and dockside infrastructure.

The captain was at the wing control station for the approach into the landing when she moved the control levers astern. However, the NTSB said, the transmission did not respond and instead remained in the forward position.

The NTSB found no evidence the ZF transmissions on the 22-year-old vessel were ever serviced, despite recommendations for maintenance approximately every five years based on usage. Leaks and other issues were discovered in the vessel’s port transmission.

Investigators also noted the vessel lacked instruments showing thrust direction and alarms indicating when propulsion controls were malfunctioning, the report said. Both factors contributed to the incident.

The operating company, Hornblower, did not respond to a request for comment on the NTSB findings.

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