NTSB: LPG carrier accident highlights distraction as safety issue

Levant's pilot and master were likely distracted by a non-pertinent conversation, investigators say

(WASHINGTON) — The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued a marine accident brief on its investigation into the accident involving the liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) carrier Levant, which occurred on Dec. 15, 2019, at the Petrogas Ferndale Wharf in Ferndale, Wash. The probable cause of the accident was the pilot’s approach with excessive speed and at too steep an angle, resulting from the pilot’s and bridge team’s poor bridge resource management. The brief reminds mariners that the master/pilot exchange is a critical opportunity for a pilot and bridge team to establish and share necessary information (shared mental model) for the task ahead.

The investigation also revealed that distraction may have played a factor. “Eliminate distractions” is on the NTSB’s 2019-2020 Most Wanted List. Both the pilot and master were likely distracted by a non-pertinent conversation about three minutes before the contact. While in this conversation, they likely missed opportunities to detect the vessel’s speed and movement toward the mooring dolphin and the point at which the pilot intended to turn to the wharf.

The NTSB reminds mariners that in heavily regulated transportation industries like marine, communicating with crew and dispatchers, checking instruments and equipment, and completing scheduled tasks may be part of normal work duties, but engaging in tasks other than vessel operation impairs performance.

Screen Shot 2021 02 08 At 110031 Am

The Petrogas Wharf with a tanker of similar size to Levant docking starboard side to the wharf. Petrogas LLC photo

Executive summary

​On Dec. 15, 2019, about 0406 local time, the liquefied petroleum gas carrier Levant was shifting 0.7 miles from its anchorage to the Petrogas Ferndale Wharf in Ferndale, Wash., when it struck the wharf’s south mooring dolphin. The mooring dolphin and catwalk connecting it to the wharf were destroyed, and Levant’s forward ballast tank was penetrated and flooded. There were no injuries to the vessel’s crew or persons on the wharf. There was no release of pollutants or the ship’s liquefied cargo of propane and butane. Damage to the vessel was estimated at $1.5 million. Damage to the south mooring dolphin and adjoining catwalk was estimated at $6.75 million.

Probable cause

​The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the contact of the liquid petroleum gas carrier Levant with a mooring dolphin at the Petrogas Ferndale Wharf was the pilot’s approach with excessive speed and at too steep an angle, resulting from the pilot’s and bridge team’s poor bridge resource management.

Click here to read the complete report.

– National Transportation Safety Board

Categories: Casualty News