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Wednesday, August 5, 2020

National Transportation Safety Board News

© Coloures-Pic/AdobeStock

Leadership Development in the Merchant Marine: The Growing Significance for the Future

How many times have you heard someone say, “Oh, that person is a born leader; I could never do what they do as I am not a born leader”? That train of thought has recently come under increased scrutiny and debate as the U.S. Merchant Marine enters the 21st century. As part of this focus, the International Maritime Association (IMO) updated the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) with the 2010 Manilla Amendments.

MV Argo Merchant was a Liberian-flagged oil tanker that ran aground and sank southeast of Nantucket Island, Mass., on Dec. 15, 1976, causing one of the largest marine oil spills in history. U.S. Coast Guard Archives

Anatomy of a Marine Casualty Investigation

Blank Rome’s maritime attorneys have represented clients in some of the largest maritime casualties in the last 20 years, including the Staten Island Ferry allision with a maintenance pier in New York, the blow out and eventual loss of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico, the sinking of the El Faro during Hurricane Joaquin, and the collision between the Navy Destroyer USS John S. McCain and the tanker ALNIC MC in the Singapore Strait. These casualties have resulted in the catastrophic loss of life…

MV Argo Merchant was a Liberian-flagged oil tanker that ran aground and sank southeast of Nantucket Island, Mass., on Dec. 15, 1976, causing one of the largest marine oil spills in history. U.S. Coast Guard Archives

Anatomy of a Marine Casualty Investigation

Blank Rome’s maritime attorneys have represented clients in some of the largest maritime casualties in the last 20 years, including the Staten Island Ferry allision with a maintenance pier in New York, the blow out and eventual loss of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico, the sinking of the El Faro during Hurricane Joaquin, and the collision between the Navy Destroyer USS John S. McCain and the tanker ALNIC MC in the Singapore Strait. These casualties have resulted in the catastrophic loss of life…

Crown Princess (Photo courtesy of BMT)

BMT Wins Multiple Nav Simulator Orders

BMT, a leading, multidisciplinary management consultancy, has reported phenomenal growth in sales of its maritime simulator and has just signed multiple key contracts with select cruise lines including Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Seabourn in North America and P&O Cruises Australia. The orders for both office and ship-based licences of BMT’s REMBRANDT maritime simulator will support cruise lines on more than 39 cruise ships.REMBRANDT is fully scalable – operating in full mission modes through to desktop and laptop configurable modes.

A USCG image of local responders fighting the fire on board the Conception.

Divers Search for Bodies in CA Boat Fire

Divers searched for more bodies early on Tuesday around the wreck of a boat destroyed by a blaze off the coast of southern California, as authorities launched an investigation into one of the area's worst maritime disasters.Emergency crews found at least 25 bodies after the fire broke out before dawn on Monday, leaving nine people still missing, the Associated Press reported. The coastguard declined to confirm the figures."We are looking for bodies now," said Santa Barbara Fire Department spokeswoman Amber Anderson.Flames ripped through the scuba diving vessel Conception…

File image of the USS John McCain (Credit: U.S. Navy)

NTSB Weighs in on McCain Collision

Insufficient Training, Inadequate Bridge Operating Procedures, Lack of Operational Oversight Led to Fatal Ship Collision. The National Transportation Safety Board said Monday that the Aug. 21, 2017, collision between the USS John S McCain and the tanker Alnic MC was caused by insufficient training, inadequate bridge operating procedures and a lack of operational oversight.Ten sailors aboard the John S McCain died in the accident and 48 were injured when the ships collided in the Middle Channel passage of the Singapore Strait Traffic Separation Scheme.

Houston Ship Channel Reopens to Two-Way Traffic

The Houston Ship Channel reopened on Wednesday to two-way traffic after salvage crews removed two gasoline barges damaged in a weekend collision with a deep-draft vessel, officials said.About 11,280 barrels of gasoline spilled into the channel near Bayport, Texas, after a 755-foot (230-metre) tanker collided over the weekend with a Kirby Inland Marine tugboat towing two barges containing the fuel.The removal of the Kirby Corp-operated barges was completed by midday on Wednesday and two-way traffic resumed…

A file image of a typical Kirby pushboat and barge. CREDIT: Kirby Corporation

Houston Port Restrictions Could Last All Week

The Houston Ship Channel could remain under one-way travel restrictions all week following a collision between a deep-draft ship and a barge that spilled petrochemicals into the waterway, according to an official.About 9,000 barrels of gasoline spilled into the channel near Bayport, Texas, when a 755-foot (230-m) tanker collided with a Kirby Inland Marine tugboat towing two barges containing the fuel. One barge ruptured and the other capsized.The U.S. Coast Guard limited travel to one-way traffic because barges blocked part of the channel.

© Igor Kardasov/Adobe Stock

Maritime Fatigue: Just another band aid?

On 24 January, the IMO issued updated guidelines on fatigue. This is just another in a long series of band aids that attempt to cover over the problem without providing a solution. Fatigue is a long-standing weakness in the maritime industry. It is recognized as a major or contributing causal factor in the majority of maritime casualties. As is well-known, fatigue is caused by a lack of sleep and relaxation. These, in turn, are the result of too few people being tasked with too much work. Guidance on how to recognize and manage fatigue is meaningless.

Passenger Vessel Fire Subject of NTSB Meeting

The National Transportation Safety Board announced Thursday its intent to hold a board meeting, Dec. 11, 2018, to determine the probable cause of the Jan. 14, 2018, fire aboard the passenger vessel Island Lady, in the waters of the Pithlachascotee River near Port Richey, Florida.One passenger died and 14 others were transported to area hospitals in the accident that left the vessel so damaged it was declared a constructive total loss.The Island Lady had 53 people aboard when at about 4 p.m. the captain received a high-temperature alarm for the port engine’s jacket-water system.

The El Faro 'black box' / CREDIT: NTSB

Lessons Learned from Maritime Accidents: NTSB’s Safer Seas Digest 2017 Released

Maritime accident investigation reports for collisions, explosions, capsizings and allisions and the lessons learned within those reports are detailed in the National Transportation Safety Board’s Safer Seas Digest 2017, released online Thursday.The publication is a compendium of 41 marine accident reports for accidents involving fishing, offshore supply, cargo, passenger, tanker, towing and government vessels. Reports in the digest were adopted or issued by the NTSB during calendar year 2017.The Safer Seas Digest is a publication designed with mariners in mind…

The Bouchard Tug and Barge Simulator at SUNY Maritime College offers state-of-the-art brown water training to SUNY cadets and industry professionals alike. (CREDIT: SUNY)

Annual Towing Forum Returns to SUNY Maritime

For nearly 20 years, leaders of the tug and barge industry in the region have converged on SUNY Maritime College in the spring to discuss current issues and initiatives facing the industry. This year will be no different; the 18th annual Towing Industry Forum will include presentations about safety management systems, wind farms and their impact on marine traffic, and a federal study regarding route planning and access to East Coast ports, among other topics. The forum, organized by the college’s Department of Professional Education and Training, will be from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Freight Train Derails, Sparks Fire in Pennsylvania

A freight train on a CSX Corp line derailed in southern Pennsylvania on Wednesday, the company said, and local authorities said a freight car struck a garage which caught fire and they ordered the evacuation of nearby residents. No injuries were reported after the derailment in Hyndman, about 100 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. The company said trains and shipments would be delayed between Connellsville, Pennsylvania, and Cumberland, Maryland. Harry Corley, an emergency management coordinator for Bedford County…

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) returns to Fleet Activities (FLEACT) Yokosuka following a collision with a merchant vessel while operating southwest of Yokosuka, Japan. (U.S. Navy photo by Peter Burghart)

US Warship Stayed on Collision Course despite Warning

A U.S. warship struck by a container vessel in Japanese waters failed to respond to warning signals or take evasive action before a collision that killed seven of its crew, according to a report of the incident by the Philippine cargo ship's captain. Multiple U.S. and Japanese investigations are under way into how the guided missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald and the much larger ACX Crystal container ship collided in clear weather south of Tokyo Bay in the early hours of June 17.

Bella Dinh-Zarr (Photo: NTSB)

Dinh-Zarr to Serve as NTSB Acting Chairman

Christopher A. Hart’s term as Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board concluded on schedule Wednesday and Vice Chairman Bella Dinh-Zarr will serve as the agency’s acting chairman. Hart will remain at the NTSB, applying his transportation safety expertise in the capacity of a board member. The NTSB has five board members, each nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate to serve five-year terms. By statute, a board member is designated by the President as Chairman and another as Vice Chairman for two-year terms. The Chairmanship requires separate Senate confirmation.

Photo: NTSB

US Probe into El Faro Disaster Concludes Public Hearings

U.S. investigators stood in silence for 33 seconds on Friday as they concluded the public phase of a probe into the sinking of the El Faro cargo ship during a 2015 hurricane, recognizing each crew member aboard who died. The Coast Guard's Marine Board of Investigation, convened for the most serious accidents, heard two weeks of testimony in the last of a series of hearings on the worst disaster involving a U.S.-flagged vessel in more than three decades. Captain Jason Neubauer, the panel's chairman, said it had collected sufficient evidence for a forthcoming analysis.

Walter J. Brudzinski (Photo: Chuck Fazio)

Insights: USCG Can Suspend and Revoke Merchant Mariner Credentials

A primer for mariners: U.S. To promote safety at sea, Congress authorized the U.S. Coast Guard to suspend or revoke Merchant Mariner Credentials for acts of incompetence, misconduct, negligence, violations of law or regulation, and use of dangerous drugs. The Coast Guard initiates 400-600 suspension and revocation (S&R) cases each year. Full understanding of the suspension and revocation (S&R) process should therefore be more than a casual requirement for the working professional mariner.

El Faro (File photo: TOTE)

Remembering El Faro

From the desk of Rear Adm. Paul Thomas, U.S. It has been one year since the tragic loss of the cargo ship El Faro and her 33 crew members. I encourage everyone in the maritime community to take a few moments to remember them, and reflect on the hazards faced by all seafarers. This is an extremely difficult milestone for the families and loved ones. My thoughts continue to be with them. Many continue to question what happened on board the El Faro during its final voyage. In order to ensure we get those answers…

NTSB Assesses USCG’s Vessel Traffic Service System

A safety study recently released by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) details 14 conclusions and 21 recommendations aimed at further reducing the risk of collisions, allisions and groundings involving vessels operating within U.S. Coast Guard Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) areas. The study, “An Assessment of the Effectiveness of the U.S. Coast Guard Vessel Traffic Service System” (NTSB/SS-16/01), focused on the performance of the Coast Guard’s VTS system, currently comprised of 12 VTS centers.

El Faro's voyage data recorder in fresh water on the USNS Apache (Photo: NTSB)

26 Hours of Information Recovered from El Faro's VDR

A group led by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has gathered information from the recovered voyage data recorder (VDR) of sunken cargo ship El Faro to develop a detailed transcript of the sounds and discernible words captured on the ship’s bridge before sinking during Hurricane Joaquin in October 2015. In all about 26 hours of information was recovered from the VDR, including bridge audio, weather data and navigational data. NTSB said numerous events leading up to the loss of the El Faro can be heard on the VDR’s audio…

CARIBBEAN FANTASY MOORED IN SAN JUAN HARBOR PHOTO USCG

Fire on Caribbean Fantasy Extinguished

The Puerto Rico Fire Department extinguished the fire on the passenger vessel ferry Caribbean Fantasy using 3,000 gallons of seawater from the San Juan Harbor around 6 p.m. Saturday. The Unified Command is establishing mechanical ventilation to circulate air through the vessel. A marine chemist will certify that the vessel is safe for access by salvage crews to facilitate overhaul of the vessel, removal of cargo and continuing salvage operations. The Coast Guard maintains a 100-yard safety zone around the vessel.

Coast Guard crewmembers watch as salvage divers from DonJon-Smit prepare to enter the water to conduct a hull survey, May 31, 2016, near Gros Cap Reefs in Lake Superior. DonJon crews dove to ensure all available information on the Blough's condition was available prior to salvage operations.(U.S. Coast Guard photo by Craig Groman)

Work Continues on Roger Blough

The U.S. Coast Guard continues to monitor and respond to the motor vessel Roger Blough, Tuesday, after the vessel ran aground Friday afternoon on Gros Cap Reef in Whitefish Bay in Lake Superior. Plans continue to progress to safely free the Blough from Gros Cap Reef through the combined efforts of Canadian partners, company representatives and the U.S. Coast Guard. Canadian Coast Guard Environmental Response personnel are in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, with a large inventory of pollution control equipment.

Voyage data recorder next to El Faro's mast on ocean floor (Photo: NTSB)

Another Mission Needed to Recover El Faro’s VDR

The investigative team who located the El Faro’s voyage data recorder (VDR) has determined that another mission will be necessary in order to retrieve the device, which may contain recorded conversations and sounds from the ship’s navigation bridge, potentially helping investigators to piece together the sequence of events that led to the cargo ship’s sinking during Hurricane Joaquin in October 2015. The team of investigators and scientists aboard research vessel Atlantis collaborated…

Voyage data recorder next to El Faro mast on ocean floor (Photo: NTSB)

El Faro’s Voyage Data Recorder Located

The voyage data recorder (VDR) belonging to sunken cargo ship El Faro was found early Tuesday morning in 15,000 feet of water, about 41 miles northeast of Acklins and Crooked Islands, Bahamas, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) announced. A specialist team comprised of investigators and scientists from the NTSB, the U.S. Coast Guard, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Tote Services, the owner and operator of El Faro, located the VDR using remotely operated undersea search equipment. Video footage showing El Faro's VDR is available here. At about 1 a.m.

Search Resumes for El Faro Data Recorder

The National Transportation Safety Board is set to resume its search April 18, 2016, for the vessel data recorder of the sunken El Faro cargo ship. The U.S. flagged El Faro sank during Hurricane Joaquin on Oct. 1, 2015. All 33 of the El Faro’s crew perished in the accident. The mission for the second search is to retrieve the ship’s vessel data recorder and better document the wreckage to help determine exactly why and how the ship sank. The second search is being conducted in cooperation with the National Science Foundation and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

El Faro file photo: Tote

US Coast Guard Hearing Probes El Faro Sinking in Hurricane

The captain of the U.S. cargo ship that sank off the Bahamas in a hurricane last fall, killing all 33 people on board, was responsible for decisions that put the vessel in the path of the storm, a shipping company executive testified on Tuesday. Captain Michael Davidson, a veteran mariner from Maine, was at the helm of the 790-foot (241-meter) El Faro for its doomed cargo run between Florida and Puerto Rico. The ship disappeared on Oct. 1 after he reported losing propulsion and taking on water. U.S.