NTSB: Lack of signalman led to bulk carrier crane accident in Louisiana

The crane operator misjudged the location of the boom while lowering a payloader to the pier

(WASHINGTON) — The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued Marine Accident Brief 21/20 on Tuesday for its investigation into the contact of a bulk carrier’s crane with a grain facility in Convent, La.

The contact occurred on Nov. 11, 2020, while the bulk vessel GH Storm Cat was completing corn loading operations at the Zen-Noh Grain Corp. facility with its No. 1 crane boom. The vessel’s crew was removing a payloader from the No. 1 cargo hold, which had been filled. A Zen-Noh employee attached the crane hook to the payloader and then walked out of view of the crane operator. The crane operator, without the assistance of a signalman or spotter, hoisted the payloader out of the cargo hold. While lowering the crane boom to land the payloader on the pier, the boom tip penetrated the shoreside facility runway.

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CCTV image of GH Storm Cat’s crane during the initial sequence of the accident, lifting the payloader out of the ship’s No. 1 cargo hold. NTSB photo

No injuries or pollution were reported. The contact resulted in more than $480,000 in damage to the shoreside conveyor gallery.

The NTSB determined the probable cause of the contact was the absence of a dedicated signalman, which led to the ship crane operator’s misjudgment of the location of the crane boom while lowering the payloader to the pier.

“All ship’s lifts — no matter how routine — should be adequately planned and risk assessed,” the report said. “All personnel involved in the lifting operation should be clearly identified and their duties understood before the start of the lift.”

– National Transportation Safety Board

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