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Maritime Casualty News, May 2015

May 27, 2015 10:06 AM

After fatal fire, Coast Guard urges safe engine-room operations

The U.S. Coast Guard has issued a safety alert with suggestions for safe engine-room operations. The alert urges operators to pay attention and respond to service bulletins, and recommends that mariners know escape routes and the location of lifesaving equipment.

The alert issued April 15 suggests that engine-room personnel perform regular inspections and be trained to identify failing components and other potential issues before a problem arises.

The alert follows a fatal December engine-room fire aboard a cruise ship in the Caribbean Sea.

“The ongoing investigation into the fire has revealed that a fuel line supply flange integral to the engine parted after three bolts completely loosened and the remaining bolt fractured,” the alert said.

Investigators determined engine maker Wärtsilä has issued technical bulletins over the years pertaining to the popular engine model’s fuel piping system. It’s not clear whether the components that failed on this vessel's Wärtsilä engine were reinstalled following these bulletins.

The Coast Guard urges mariners, engineers, technicians and others working in engine rooms to familiarize themselves with the layout and escape routes and to know where emergency breathing equipment is located and how to manually operate watertight doors. The agency recommends carrying a powerful flashlight at all times.

Bulker needs lightering after grounding in St. Marys River

A Canadian bulk carrier loaded with 17,000 tons of stone ran aground in the St. Marys River in Potagannissing Bay near De Tour Village, Mich.

The 603-foot bulker Mississagi was downbound when it grounded at about 0100 hours on April 22. Aerial photos taken after the accident showed the vessel sitting dangerously low in the water.

The ship was refloated at about 1300 hours on April 25 after 2,000 tons of stone were offloaded during lightering operations, the U.S. Coast Guard said in a news release. Mississagi sailed under its own power to an anchorage near Big Trout Island, and its cargo was to be reloaded in Bruce Mines, Ontario.

Inspectors determined the vessel was not damaged during the grounding and nobody was injured. There was no environmental damage. The cause remains under investigation.

Coast Guard detains Panama-flagged vessel after propulsion failures

A 600-foot motor vessel that suffered two separate fuel-related propulsion losses within 24 hours was detained by the U.S. Coast Guard in Astoria, Ore., after failing an inspection.

The agency found “significant environmental and safety violations” on the Panama-flagged Ikan Sudip during a May 16 inspection. Key problems included the ship’s failure to use mandatory U.S. and international engineering procedures, deficient structural fire boundary doors and severe corrosion, according to a Coast Guard news release.

The Coast Guard coordinated repairs with Ikan Sudip’s classification society, flag state, owner and management company. The vessel, which was to pick up a load of potash bound for Brazil, will be allowed to continue its voyage after completing repairs and correcting safety issues, the release said.

“Eliminating substandard vessels from U.S. waters is critical to ensuring our waterways are protected,” Capt. Dan Travers, Coast Guard Sector Columbia River Commanding Officer and captain of the port for Oregon and Southern Washington, said in a statement.

"Only after the vessel crew corrects its deficient safety management system and critical vessel equipment will we allow it to return to commercial service."

Casualty flashback: May 1980

The 579-foot M/V Summit Venture was sailing near St. Petersburg, Fla., on May 9, 1980, when it struck a pier on the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, sending 1,400 feet of the steel highway bridge plummeting into the bay.

Seven vehicles, including a Greyhound Bus, fell more than 150 feet into the water and 35 people died, according to published reports. One person whose vehicle fell from the bridge survived the fall, while another vehicle stopped just 14 inches from the edge.

The accident occurred during a period of heavy winds, driving rain and low visibility. The ship’s radar failed as the vessel engaged in a 13-degree turn between two bridge piers, according to newspaper accounts at the time. Investigators cleared the crew and pilot of wrongdoing.

A new span, which carries Interstate 275 over Tampa Bay, opened in April 1987. The bridge incorporated protective concrete dolphins around the piers to protect against similar accidents.

Summit Venture, which was built in 1976 in Japan, changed hands several times over the years. Later renamed Jian Mang 9, it sank off Danang, Vietnam, in December 2010. All crewmembers were rescued.

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