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Casualty briefs

Aug 29, 2017 12:37 PM

Northbound tow strikes oft-hit Vicksburg bridge
Three barges broke away after a northbound tow struck a bridge support in the Mississippi River at Vicksburg, Miss.

The third barge in a three-barge tow pushed by the 4,200-hp Sekco hit Pier 4 on the Old Highway 80 Bridge at about 1620 on June 11, according to U.S. Coast Guard spokeswoman Rita Wilson. As the towboat backed away from the pier, the lead barge struck the same pier and broke free. Then the barge drifted and hit the Interstate 20 Bridge just downriver.

Herman Smith, superintendent of the Old Highway 80 Bridge, said the tow appeared to get caught in the current as it approached the span, which links Mississippi and Louisiana at mile marker 436.

“(The captain) had 900 feet of barges in front of him in a single line and when he got a little sideways, the current started hitting that and shoved him on top of the pier,” Smith said in a recent interview.

An assist tug helped round up the loose barges after the accident. The Coast Guard is investigating the accident but has not identified a cause.

Genesis Energy of Houston operates Sekco, a 144-foot towboat built in 1974 and rebuilt in 2013. “When incidents happen, we take it as an opportunity to learn and improve our operations,” said Rick Alexander, company vice president and general manager.

“While the incident is still under investigation, we continue to cooperate with the Vicksburg Bridge Commission and the U.S. Coast Guard as we work toward a resolution,” he said.

Five tows hit the Old Highway 80 Bridge in 10 days in January 2016, and it’s been hit at least twice this year. Smith said it’s uncommon for northbound tows to hit the span.

NTSB: Loose bolts likely caused cruise ship fire
Federal investigators said loose bolts on a diesel generator’s fuel system likely caused an engine room fire on a berthed Carnival cruise ship.

The fire aboard Carnival Liberty occurred at 1133 on Sept. 7, 2015, in the forward engine room while the vessel was tied up in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, in the U.S. Virgin Islands. No one was injured, but the fire caused more than $1.7 million in damage.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), loosened bolts on diesel generator No. 4 “triggered an uncontrolled fuel spray from the inlet flange onto a hot surface on the diesel generator.” Investigators said vibration combined with improper tightening during prior servicing likely loosened the bolts.

The fire triggered a series of alarms and warnings on board the 951-foot ship. Crew initially activated a water-mist system to fight the fire, although an unknown person activated mist flooding in both the forward and aft engine rooms, reducing pressure and hindering the system’s effectiveness.

“According to the HI-FOG manual, which was specific to Carnival Liberty, the system was designed for total flooding in one engine space at a time, not both,” the NTSB said in its accident report. The fire was ultimately extinguished with a fixed CO2 system.

The NTSB said the incident highlighted the need for crew training “regarding the use and limitations of fixed water-based local application systems in machinery spaces.” The agency also found that “preplanned procedures to account for all persons aboard are essential in the event of a mass evacuation of a ship while in port.”

The report made similar recommendations to Carnival Corp. regarding crew training. It also recommended that the Cruise Lines International Association inform members about the accident and the importance of accounting for everyone on board during mass evacuations in port.

Coast Guard transfers 17 from grounded schooner
A 126-foot excursion schooner that sails from Martha’s Vineyard ran aground near the mouth of the Mystic River in Connecticut, not far from where it grounded in a similar incident in 2010.

The 91-year-old Alabama had 17 passengers and five crew on board when it became stuck outside the channel off Mystic, Conn., at about 1815 on June 18. The Coast Guard dispatched a crew from Station New London who transferred passengers off the schooner. No one was hurt and there was no pollution.

Alabama was refloated with help of a tugboat and taken to a nearby shipyard for inspection. The Coast Guard is investigating the incident and has not released an official cause. Black Dog Tall Ships, which operates the vessel, did not respond to a request for comment.

The schooner also grounded near Mystic, Conn., in early July 2010. In that case, the vessel refloated with the tide about 24 hours later.

Alabama was built in 1926 for the Mobile (Ala.) Bar Pilots using a design commonly found on New England fishing schooners. The pilots retired the vessel in 1966 and it began a second life as an excursion vessel in the mid-1990s.

Bulker loses propulsion, grounds off Norfolk, Va.
A bulk carrier loaded with cement and steel lost propulsion and grounded in the Elizabeth River off Sewells Point in Norfolk, Va. The vessel struck a navigation buoy before stopping in the soft river bottom.

The 586-foot Thai-flagged Mallika Naree grounded outside the navigation channel shortly before 1250 on June 29 while inbound to Chesapeake, Va., the Coast Guard said. No one was injured and there was no pollution.

The Coast Guard did not disclose the engine problem that stymied the 9-year-old ship. The service also declined to comment on a possible cause of the accident, citing the ongoing investigation.

The Coast Guard and local authorities responded to the grounding. The Moran Towing tugs Jack T. Moran and Clayton W. Moran helped refloat the ship. It was safely back in the channel by about 1500, and from there it moved to a nearby anchorage for inspection.

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