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Marine accident report: Collision of Panamanian bulk carrier MV Seadaniel with German containership MV Testbank, Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, near Shell Beach, Louisiana, July 22, 1980

National
Transportation
Safety
Board


Washington, D.C. 20594



Marine Accident Report


Collision of Panamanian Bulk Carrier M/V Seadaniel with German Containership M/V Testbank
Mississippi River Gulf Outlet
Near Shell Beach, Louisiana
July 22, 1980


NTSB-MAR-81-8



United States Government



Technical Report Documentation Page

1. Report No.
NTSB-MAR-81-8
2. Government Accession No.
PB81-219768
3. Recipient's Catalog No.
4. Title and Subtitle

Collision of Panamanian Bulk Carrier M/V Seadaniel With German Containership M/V Testbank, Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, Near Shell Beach, Louisiana, July 22, 1980.

5. Report Date
June 10, 1981
6. Performing Organization Code
7. Author(s) 8. Performing Organization Report No.
9. Performing Organization Name and Address

National Transportation Safety Board
Bureau of Accident Investigation
Washington, D.C. 20594
10. Work Unit No.
3271
11. Contract or Grant No.
13. Type of Report and Period Covered
Marine Accident Report
July 22, 1980
12. Sponsoring Agency Name and Address

National Transportation Safety Board
Washington, D.C. 20594
14. Sponsoring Agency Code
 
15. Supplementary Notes
The subject report was distributed to NTSB mailing lists 8A, 8G and 19.
16 Abstract
About 2044 c.d.s.t. on July 22, 1980, the upbound Panamanian bulk carrier M/V Seadaniel, with a Crescent River Port Pilot's Association (CRPPA) pilot aboard, collided with the downbound German containership M/V Testbank, also with a CRPPA pilot on board, while meeting in the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet Canal near Shell Beach, Louisiana. The Seadaniel took an unexpected turn to the left due to an erroneous left rudder response to the pilot's right rudder order and struck the Testbank raking down the port side. The damage to the Seadaniel was light and the damage to the Testbank was moderate. There were no deaths or injuries caused by the accident; however, the inhabitants of Shell Beach were temporarily evacuated and the waterway closed for about 3 weeks due to the environmental pollution.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the application of left rudder by the helmsman of the Seadaniel when the pilot had ordered right rudder. Contributing to this accident was the failure of the ship's officers on the bridge to take any positive action to correct the helmsman's error and the failure of the pilot and master to more closely observe the helmsman's responses to rudder orders in this close quarters situation.
17. Key Words
Collision, bulk carrier, containership, containers, Mississippi River Gulf Outlet Canal, bank effect, bank suction, bank pressure, pilot, PCP, environmental damage.
18. Distribution Statement
This document is available to the public through the National Technical Information Service Springfield, Virginia 22161 (Always refer to number listed in item 2)
19. Security Classification
(of this report)
Unclassified
20. Security Classification
(of this page)
Unclassified
21. No. of Pages

27
22. Price

NTSB Form 1765.2 (Rev. 9/74)



Contents

Introduction
1
Synopsis
1
Investigation
2
The Accident
2
Injuries to Persons
8
Damage to Vessels
8
Environmental Damage
9
Crew Information
9
Vessel Information
12
Waterway Information
12
Environmental Information
12
Tests and Research
12
Shipping Regulations
13
Other Information
15
Analysis
15
Operation of the Testbank
15
Operation of the Seadaniel
16
Position of the Vessels in the Channel
17
Bank Effect
18
Regulations Affecting Packaged Shipment of Hazardous Material by Water
18
Conclusions
20
Findings
20
Probable Cause
21
Recommendations
21
Appendixes
23
Appendix A--Cargo Container Damage
23
Appendix B--Crew Information
24



National Transportation Safety Board
Washington, D.C. 20594


Marine Accident Report

Adopted: June 10, 1981

Collision of Panamanian Bulk Carrier M/V Seadaniel with German Containership M/V Testbank,
Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, Near Shell Beach, Louisiana
July 22, 1980


Introduction

This accident was investigated jointly by the National Transportation Safety Board and the U.S. Coast Guard. An investigation was held in New Orleans, Louisiana, from July 25, 1980, through August 26, 1980. This report is based on the factual information developed by the investigation. The Safety Board has considered all facts pertinent to the Safety Board's statutory responsibility to determine the cause of probable cause of the accident to make recommendations.

The Safety Board's analysis and recommendations are made independently of the Coast Guard. To inform the public of all Safety Board recommendations and the responses thereto, all such recommendations and responses are published in the Federal Register.

Synopsis

About 2044 c.d.s.t.[1] on July 22, 1980, the upbound Panamanian bulk carrier M/V Seadaniel, with a Crescent River Port Pilot's Association (CRPPA) pilot aboard, collided with the downbound German containership M/V Testbank, also with a CRPPA pilot on board, while meeting in the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet Canal near Shell Beach, Louisiana. The Seadaniel took an unexpected turn to the left due to an erroneous left rudder response to the pilot's right rudder order and struck the Testbank raking down the port side. The damage to the Seadaniel was light and the damage to the Testbank was moderate. There were no deaths or injuries caused by the accident; however, the inhabitants of Shell Beach were temporarily evacuated and the waterway closed for about 3 weeks due to the environmental pollution.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the application of left rudder by the helmsman of the Seadaniel when the pilot had ordered right rudder. Contributing to this accident was the failure of the ship's officers on the bridge to take any positive action to correct the helmsman's error and the failure of the pilot and master to more closely observe the helmsman's responses to rudder orders in this close quarters situation.

INVESTIGATION

The Accident

The Seadaniel—On July 22, 1980, the Panamanian registered bulk carrier M/V Seadaniel was upbound towards New Orleans, Louisiana, in the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet Canal (MRGO) maneuvering on various courses and speeds following the confines of the channel. The Seadaniel had last departed the port of Tsam Kong, China, and was partially loaded with a cargo of about 22,000 metric tons of baryite lumps,[2] drawing about 32 feet of water. The Seadaniel had proceeded directly to the U.S. from China, through the Panama Canal, and had experienced no difficulty during the voyage.

About 1930, in the vicinity of light 78, an Associated Branch pilot, who had piloted the Seadaniel since about 1355 when it entered U.S. pilot waters, was relieved by a Crescent River Port Pilot's Association pilot. The two pilots discussed various aspects of the vessel's handling characteristics, including its steering and its speeds. The Associated Branch pilot apparently had no problem in communicating with the foreign crew, and, therefore, he did not discuss the language differences. About 1932, after the Associated Branch pilot had departed the Seadaniel and had boarded the pilot boat, the relieving pilot of the Seadaniel ordered full ahead maneuvering speed, about 10 mph, at about 80 rpm.

The pilot of the Seadaniel saw the outbound vessel, "Orkney", near light 80 and communicated with the vessel's pilot on VHF radio channel 67 and agreed to a "one-whistle" meeting. After sounding the required one-whistle signal, the vessels safely passed port to port.

Since the MRGO was clear of vessels forward of the Seadaniel, the pilot ordered the speed increased to full ahead sea speed. The master of the Seadaniel carried out the order by telephone to the engineroom at 1936. Sea speed for the Seadaniel is about 100 to 110 rpm and about 12 to 13 mph. The course of the Seadaniel was about 309º to 310ºt.[3] The pilot discussed the vessel's observed speed of about 11 to 12 mph with the master and concluded the speed loss was due to "the tide… falling." The pilot estimated the current to be about 1 1/2 mph downbound.

The Seadaniel changed watchstanders about 2000, and the bridge watch then consisted of the master, a helmsman on the wheel, the third mate, and a lookout. The third mate was operating the engine order telegraph and the lookout was stationed on the starboard bridge wing. The helmsman was instructed to repeat the pilot's rudder orders, and the master verified that he generally heard the helmsman repeat back the orders.

The Seadaniel was navigated to lights 95/96 where the course was altered to 288º. The pilot observed the vessel as "steady" on 288º, but varying between 288º and 289º. About 2030, shortly after steadying on course 288º an while navigating about in midchannel, the pilot saw the navigational lights of an outbound ship, the German containership M/V Testbank. Because his office had advised him of the vessel's sailing, the pilot of the Seadaniel had expected to meet the containership on the transit. Since it was twilight, the navigation lights of both the Seadaniel and the Testbank were on. Despite the twilight conditions, both vessels were able to see not only each other at all times after first sighting, but also all navigational aids and the river banks.

The pilot of the Seadaniel initially observed the Testbank as coming southbound, or downbound, upriver of lights 103/104 and having not yet made the course change to the reach of the channel that the Seadaniel was on. The Seadaniel's master also saw the Testbank and visually observed that it was to the right of the upbound channel centerline but did not utilize available radar or navigation charts to check its position in the channel. The master and pilot of the Seadaniel estimated the Testbank to be between 5 1/2 to 7 miles distance from the Seadaniel. About 2034, the pilot of the Seadaniel unsuccessfully attempted to contact the Testbank via his hand-held portable VHF radio set on channel 67. A second attempt to make contact proved successful and a "one-whistle" meeting was agreed to. The pilot of the Testbank advised the pilot of the Seadaniel that the numerous lights in his vicinity were from fishing vessels in the channel.

The pilot of the Seadaniel observed the small upbound towboat, M/V Mandy Cenac, pushing a crude oil barge between Shell Beach and lights 95/96. The pilot contacted the operator of the Mandy Cenac and a "one-whistle" overtaking was agreed to and accomplished. The operator of the Mandy Cenac aided the overtaking by navigating his vessel toward the right descending bank until after the Seadaniel had passed.

The pilot of the Seadaniel testified that after the Testbank had turned approximately to the reciprocal course of the Seadaniel at lights 103/104, the Testbank was about in midchannel, but that the Testbank angled over to the right descending bank after clearing Shell Beach and was proceeding down river on the downbound side of the channel centerline. According to the master of the Seadaniel and the operator of the Mandy Cenac, they observed the Testbank navigating downbound on the upbound side of the channel.

Between 2030 and 2038 in the vicinity of lights 97/98, the Seadaniel's pilot ordered the speed reduced to full ahead maneuvering revolutions because of the approaching Testbank. The mate on watch carried out the pilot's order by calling the engineroom on the telephone; however, the engine room bell book did not have this speed reduction noted. About 2036, the third mate estimated the Testbank to be 3 miles away. (See figure 1.) At 2039:30 the Seadaniel's pilot ordered the speed reduced to half ahead, about 8 mph at about 60 rpm, and at 2041:15 ordered an additional reduction of speed to slow ahead or about 5 to 6 mph. Both of these ordered were written in the engineroom bell book. The master estimated the Testbank to be about 1 to 2 miles distance at the time of the 2039 engine order, and 1 mile away at the time of the 2041 engine order; the pilot's estimates were 1 1/2 miles and 1/2 to 1 mile, respectively. At 2041, the Seadaniel's pilot ordered the one-whistle signal sounded.

Shortly after 2042, the pilot of the Seadaniel, although he had not ordered a course change, noticed the vessel's head swing slightly to the right, checked the course on the gyro repeater, and observed a course being steered of between 293.5º to 294º. The pilot, who had been communicating ordered to the Chinese crew in English, stated that he raised his voice and stressed the to the crew the importance of following his orders closely due to the possibility of grounding in the narrow channel and to the proximity of the other vessel. The pilot ordered the vessel returned to the left to a course of 290º. The Seadaniel had moved slightly to the right of the channel centerline as a result of the course excursion. The helmsman of the Seadaniel started bringing the head of the vessel to the left to 290º. The helmsman testified that he had difficulty maintaining the
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previously ordered course because of a tendency of the Seadaniel to steer to the right. The third mate testified that he had observed the helmsman having difficulty maintaining course and observed the heading fall off to the right. The third mate said nothing because the pilot discovered the error within a few seconds.

About 2042, the pilot of the Seadaniel contacted the pilot of the Testbank on VHF radio channel 67 and according to the VTS tape recording of the conversation told him "Doug, these guys are going to run this…ship aground. They're hard-headed, they don't listen…"

The pilot of the Seadaniel felt that the vessel's swing to port, to return to the ordered course, was too rapid and he ordered the rudder put hard to starboard to check the vessel's swing. The master and third mate of the Seadaniel heard the order. The pilot stated that the reason for the order was due to the proximity of the approaching Testbank to his left. The master testified that when the pilot ordered hard to starboard the Testbank was directly ahead of the Seadaniel, but that he did not know whether the Testbank was steady on course or maneuvering because he was not paying attention to the movement of the Testbank. The helmsman testified that the pilot "…start hollering and I could not understand what he was saying…" The pilot appeared "agitated" to the crew and went beyond normal rudder and engine commands in his instructions in English to the crew to pay attention to the vessel's navigation. The third mate did not see the helmsman change his rudder but did hear him "swear a little bit." The pilot observed that despite his order and instructions the Seadaniel's rate of turn to the left had accelerated. He looked at the illuminated rudder angle indicator and saw the pointer at the hard-to-port position. The master could not see either the position of the ship's rudder order indicator or the rudder angle indicator from his position on the forward left side of the bridge. The helmsman denied having the wheel hard to port. The third mate, who was standing behind the helmsman, stated that he saw the helm about 10º left when the pilot spoke loudly to the helmsman. The third mate said that he did not "observe any swing of the vessel" other than a very slow swing of the bow to port returning from the 294º excursion.

The pilot of the Seadaniel ordered the danger signal sounded, repeated his order to put the rudder hard to starboard, and turned and motioned to the helmsman pointing to starboard. The third mate saw the helmsman apply right rudder after the second order. The third mate felt that both the orders were clearly given and he hard the helmsman repeat back the second order. The third mate stated there were less than 60 seconds between the two hard-to-starboard orders. The pilot stated that due to the closeness of the Testbank, estimated to be about 500 feet away, he believed that the two vessels would collide since there was insufficient time to correct the accelerated port swing. He therefore ordered the engine stopped at 2043 and moments later ordered the engine full speed astern. The pilot said he ordered "double full astern" just prior to the collision; that order is not logged in the engine room bell book, but the master heard the order.

The pilot of the Seadaniel testified that he advised the Testbank's pilot by VHF radio channel 67 that the Seadaniel was backing full. The VTS tape has portions of this conversation recorded at 2043, indicating that the pilot did transmit words to the effect that "Doug, they put the wheel hard a-port." The remainder of the communication was unintelligible.

The Seadaniel's pilot testified that he had communicated with the vessel's master in English without difficulty, but he had not conversed with any of the crew except to give rudder and engine orders. The pilot testified that language differences are sometimes a problem and stated that he depended on his visual observations to verify that his orders had been carried out, rather than a repeat back by the helmsman. The pilot was uncertain if rudder orders had been repeated back to him. He said that prior to the erroneous rudder application there had been no translation problems and all of his orders had been properly carried out. The Seadaniel's pilot was not certain that the rudder was ever placed hard to starboard, despite his two orders and hand signal. He stated he was too busy providing whistle signals, issuing engine orders, and observing the other vessel to ascertain that the helmsman had properly responded to his orders.

The Testbank—About 1800, the pilot assigned to the Testbank boarded the ship at France Road #4 dock New Orleans, Louisiana. He proceeded to the bridge and found the master, chief mate, and one seaman on watch. The pilot and master discussed the vessel's handling characteristics, draft, and particulars in detail. The nature of the cargo being carried was not discussed. The master spoke fluent English and the discussion was in English. The pilot found both radars on standby, the ship's VHF radio operating on channel 14, and no course recorder. The pilot was carrying a portable VHF radio, set on channel 9 to use for bridge-to-bridge communication with the tugs while undocking. The pilot had been advised by his office dispatcher to expect to meet the Seadaniel upbound.

About 1836, the Testbank got underway outbound, bound for Rotterdam, Bremen, LeHarve, and other ports. After routinely clearing the dock, the pilot set the ship's VHF radio on channel 67 and released the tugs about 1845. The Testbank followed the channel downbound at speeds varying between slow to half ahead until the vessel passed the Paris Road Bridge, where speed was set full ahead, about 12 to 13 mph. About 2000, the bridge watch changed; the master acted as watch officer and handled the automated engineroom controls, a helmsman was at the wheel, and a lookout was on the starboard bridge wing.

The Testbank transited the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet Canal uneventfully until about 2020 when, in the vicinity of lights 103/104 about mile 44.5 to 45, the pilot saw the navigation lights of the Seadaniel. (See figure 1.) The Testbank's pilot estimated the distance to the Seadaniel to be about 7 1/2 to 8 miles, with the Seadaniel in the vicinity of Bayou la Loutre below lights 95/96. About 2030, as the Testbank approached lights 103/104, the pilot noticed about a dozen fishing vessels working in the area, and he therefore reduced speed to half speed, about 90 rpm and about 9 to 10 mph, to avoid wake damage. Due to their proximity, the pilot was paying attention to the fishing vessels rather than the Seadaniel. After passing lights 103/104, the pilot set a new course of 108º. A few seconds later, the pilots communicated on VHF radio channel 67, and a "one-whistle" meeting was agreed to. In this conversation, the pilot of the Testbank stated that he was advised by the pilot of the Seadaniel that "he had a load" but would try and give the Testbank room. The Testbank pilot stated taht he replied "There is no problem. Just hold on me and when we get close, we will swing off one another." The Testbank's pilot testified that the statement meant "we both knew that we were going to stay in the middle or just slightly to the right and meet."

When the Testbank was about at the "Pipeline Canal," about 1 mile upriver from Shell Beach, about mile 42 to 43, the pilot ordered the Testbank to course 110º, angling the vessel slightly toward the right descending bank and to the right of the right half of the downbound channel. The pilot of the Testbank stated that he did so to "give him the benefit of the doubt, because I have a real good ship" and because the pilot of the Seadaniel told him that "he had a load." He did not advise the pilot of the Seadaniel of this maneuver. About 2036 in the vicinity of Bayou Yscloskey, the pilot of the Testbank ordered dead slow ahead, about 5.5 mph and about 50 rpm. The Testbank's pilot said he observed the Seadaniel's white range and masthead lights closely while the Seadaniel navigated upbound. He stated that he felt their movement indicated the Seadaniel was in "good shape" with nothing wrong.

About 2042, the pilot of the Testbank saw the Seadaniel's navigation lights opening, indicating that the Seadaniel was turning to its right. He recalled thinking that "…he is pulling over just a little bit too soon…" When the Testbank had reached the vicinity of Shell Beach on the right descending bank of the MRGO, the pilot heard the pilot of the Seadaniel's 2042 broadcast. Therefore, the Testbank pilot ordered the vessel further to the right, to course 112º, thinking that the Seadaniel was "…trying to correct some course change…" and to give more room "…to a vessel that is not steering as the pilot orders…" The pilot of the Testbank stated that this further course change to the right would take some pressure off the pilot of the Seadaniel in having to turn to the right at the last minute; however, he did not advise the pilot of the Seadaniel of this further course change to the right. The Testbank's pilot estimated the Testbank to be about 200 feet off the right descending bank at Shell Beach, or about 100 feet from the edge of the channel, with the two vessels ready to meet about one-quarter mile distance apart. The pilot of the Testbank stated that he blew one whistle when his vessel was near Shell Beach proceeding about 5.5 mph over the ground with about a 1-mph current.

About 2043, the pilot of the Testbank said he heard the pilot of the Seadaniel transmit to him via VHF radio channel 67 that "…they put the wheel hard to port on me…" followed by, "…I'm going to throw her back over…" The pilot of the Testbank ordered the engine stopped when he heard the Seadaniel's pilot's transmissions. The Testbank's pilot, who was still closely observing the masthead and range lights of the Seadaniel, observed the continued swing of the Seadaniel to its left and heard the VHF radio transmission from the Seadaniel's pilot stating that he was going full astern. The pilot of the Testbank observed the swing of the Seadaniel to be a "gentle" swing rather than an erratic swing that would be caused by a sheer due to bank effect. The master of the Testbank, who also observed and confirmed the Seadaniel's turn to the left, estimated the Seadaniel to be about 400 to 500m (1,312 to 1,640 feet) away from the Testbank when he saw the left turn commence. The helmsman of the Testbank, who previous was only paying attention to minding his course, looked and saw the Seadaniel turning to its left and coming across the channel centerline. He stated he knew then there would be a collision. His observation was that the Testbank was to the right in the downbound side of the channel. The Testbank's pilot and master both heard the Seadaniel sound the danger signal, and at that time estimated their vessel to be about 100 to 150 feet off the right descending bank about mile 40.9 and making less than 4 mph. The Testbank's pilot ordered the engine put full astern and the rudder put hard to starboard. The engine bell tape reflects that the stop order and astern order came at the same time, 2043 and 40 seconds. The Testbank's pilot ordered and the master sounded the danger signal on the ship's whistle and the ship's general alarm bell. When the Seadaniel was about 5 feet away, the pilot ordered the rudder amidship.

The operator of the Mandy Cenac stated that while observing the Seadaniel's lights, he saw the Seadaniel turn left into the Testbank. While his testimony was generally uncertain, he felt the Testbank was on the "wrong" side of the channel. He said that the Seadaniel's stern was directly in front of his vessel when the two vessels collided. His vessel was about 40 to 50 feet off the left descending bank.

The collision was logged at 2044 in the Seadaniel's and the Testbank's engine room bell books. After the vessels' bows had passed each other, the Seadaniel struck the Testbank's port forecastle. The pilot of the Testbank and the pilot of the Seadaniel estimated the nagle to be 30º to 45º and slightly less than 45º, respectively. At the time of the impact, the Testbank was estimated to be on a heading of 115º at about 3 to 4 mph over the ground and the Seadaniel was estimated to be making about 6 to 8 mph over the ground on a course about 268º to 270º.

The two vessels momentarily broke contact after the initial impact as the Testbank heeled to starboard. The pilot of the Testbank described the heel as "heavy" and felt the heel was due to the vessel coming in contact with the diagonal banks of the channel. The impact brought the Testbank to bare headway in the water and turned the bow of the Seadaniel to the right, almost parallel with the channel according to the pilot of the Testbank. Secondary contact occurred near the No. 2 port hatch when the Testbank righted, almost immediately after the first impact, and the Seadaniel proceeded down the port side of the Testbank ripping containers stowed above deck on the outboard port side of the Testbank. The crew of the Seadaniel observed sparks as the Seadaniel raked down the port side of the Testbank. A heavy white haze and an odor of "rotten onions" emanated from the damaged containers strewn about the Testbank's main deck after the impact. The vapor was sufficiently dense to prevent sighting the bow from the bridge of the Testbank.

After the two vessels had cleared, the Testbank's engine was brought to stop and then slow ahead by the pilot to prevent the stern from striking the nearby beach. The Testbank was maneuvered to the left descending bank and using the starboard anchor was anchored near mile 40.5 at about 2050. The pilot contacted the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) on VHF radio channel 16 and advised the USCG of collision.

The Seadaniel crossed the channel behind the stern of the Testbank and grounded softly on the right descending bank. The pilot ordered the vessel anchored, and a damage survey was conducted. The Seadaniel came to rest on the river bank with mile marker 41 about 100m (328 feet) off the vessel's port side. The pilot of the Seadaniel estimated the collision site to be about three-fourths to three-fifths of a mile below Shell Beach with his vessel's bown across the channel centerline. The master and third mate testified that the Seadaniel did not cross over the channel centerline.

The pilot of the Seadaniel observed two containers in the water, one of which sank in the area of the collision. The pilot utilized his vessel's searchlight and saw the second container drifting toward the right descending bank close to the Seadaniel's stern. The container grounded and came to rest on the right descending bank.

Injuries to Persons

There were no injuries.

Damage to Vessels

The port bow and rail of the Seadaniel were slightly damaged and the bow was contaminated with hazardous cargo from the Testbank. The Testbank was holed in the port side shell plating above the waterline near the bow and received extensive damage to her port side cargo containers; the main deck cargo area was contaminated with hazardous cargo. (See appendix A.)

Environmental Damage

As a result of the impact, one of six containers of the pesticide pentachlorphenol (PCP) entered the water. In addition, a small undetermined quantity of ethyl mercaptan and a hydrobromic acid were released. Due to the hazardous pollution of the water by the PCP, the U.S. Coast Guard closed the MRGO to waterborne traffic until August 14, 1980, and mounted a major cleanup and recovery effort including, among others, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA), and numerous State of Louisiana agencies and local authorities. The State of Louisiana Health Department established a "Health and Environmental Zone." (See figures 2 and 3.) Seventy-five inhabitants of the Shell Beach area were temporarily evacuated due to the fumes.

The September 12, 1980 "Hazardous Materials Intelligence Report (HMIR)" newsletter, Vol. 1, No. 18, reported:

Throughout the cleanup operation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) monitored PCP levels in shrimp, oysters, and fish in nearby lake Borgne, and the sediments and water column in both lake and the MRGO. Nancy Maynard, NOAA scientific support coordinator for the PCP spill, told HMIR that the PCP concentrations in the sediments, water column, and biota attained their maximum values at the time of the spill and again later during the vacuum recovery of PCP from the MRGO. Using chemical tracers and other techniques, NOAA determined that the turbulence from the vacuum operation had transported the PCP vertically to the surface waters and that tidal currents had distributed PCP laterally into Lake Borgne and the MRGO. Maynard said that the spill provided NOAA with a good opportunity to study the transport and fate of substances other than oil in the environment. According to Maynard, researchers have focused their modeling and monitoring activities on oil spills until recently, although hazardous material present many more difficulties than oil because of the unique physical and chemical properties of each material.

After the completion of the vacuum operation, the PCP levels in all areas dropped to less than 1 part per billion (ppb), Maynard said. She added that the cleanup crews recovered almost all of the spilled PCP and that a recent hurricane flushed out the MRGO and Lake Borgne and removed or dispersed any remaining chemical. Oyster samples from Lake Borgne had previously been found to contain high PCP levels, forcing state official to close the lake to fishing, but the organisms rapidly depurated themselves, Maynard said, and the lake was reopened.

Crew Information

The Seadaniel was manned by a crew of 33. The master and radio officer were British nationals, while the balance of the crew were Chinese. The Testbank was manned by a crew of 23 persons of mixed nationalities, predominantly German nationals. In addition, two passengers were aboard the Testbank. (See appendix B.)

Notice


The Louisiana State Health Department, in conjunction with the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries and the U.S. Coast Guard, has established a Health and Environmental Zone around the Shell Beack and Hopedale area because of the threat of pentaclorophenal contamination in the waters of that area. All commercial, private and sport fishing, and other water activities (water skiing, swimming, washing of vessels or vessel holds, etc.) are prohibited in the zone. In addition to the Health and Environmental Zone the Coast Guard has also established a safety zone in the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (MRGO).

The Coast Guard safety zone prohibits all vessel traffic on the MRGO between light 106 and light 68. Vessels will be allowed to cross the MRGO at the upper and lower end of the Hopedale Canal, but will not be allowed on the MRGO. These crossings will be supervised by Coast Guard or La. Wild_Life and Fisheries vessels.

The areas affected by the Health and Environmental Zones are: South, along Bayou La Loutre from the MRGO to Bayou Terre Aux Boeufs, including all amrshes between the MRGO and Bayou La Loutre, and all of Bayou Yscloskey. North, all of the marsh between the MRGO and Lake Borgne from bouy 86 to bouy 106 in the MRGO and Lake Borgne from Proctor Point to Bayou St. Malo. All marshes southeast of Bayou St. Malo and Bakers Canal to the MRGO is also included in the zone.



Figure 2—Louisiana State Health Department Notice establishing "Health and Environmental Zone."

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Vessel Information[4]

The Seadaniel is a Panamanian registered 11,600-bhp diesel propelled bulk carrier built in 1976. It has a gross tonnage and a net tonnage of 16,169 and 10,998, respectively. The vessel is 551.2 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 46.4 feet deep.

The Testbank is a German registered, automated 8,000-bhp diesel-propelled containership, built in 1978. It has a gross tonnage and net tonnage of 9,313 and 6,856, respectively. The vessel is 467.5 feet long, 68.9 feet wide, 35.5 feet deep.

Waterway Information

The accident occurred in a reach of the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet Canal, near Shell Beach, Louisiana. The Canal is maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and links the Port of New Orleans, from the outlet's junction with the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal, to the Gulf of Mexico. The canal is about 66 miles long and extends generally southeast from New Orleans to the Gulf.

The canal is well marked with navigational aids. In the approximately 5-mile-long segment of the canal in which the collision took place, there are four sets of two fixed navigational aids marking the lateral limits of the 500-foot channel. On each side of the channel, which is mud bottomed, the sides slope gradually up to the bank to which is located about 100 feet on either side of the channel. The land mass surrounding the canal in the area of the collision is typically flat low marshland, covered with tall, coarse grass and weeds. Due to the low flat nature of the land and to the fact that there are no structures in this area, visibility is unobstructed.

The channel is a 500-foot-wide channel with a 36-foot controlling depth. However, due to erosion over time the banks have extended the grassline or shoreline to about a 575-foot width. While the MRGO is considered by the pilots to be a narrow channel, there is a little congestion in the lower reached except at Bayou Ycloskey and at Shell Beach where a great deal of congestion exists due to the numerous fishing vessels that operate in the area. As the MRGO approaches New Orleans, the congestion increases due to the numerous docks, barge fleets, etc. located there.

Environmental Information

The weather at the time of the accident was clear at twilight. It was becoming dark and even though an overcast sky threatened rain, visibility was excellent. The wind was slight, reported south about 4 to 7 mph, the barometer was 1012 mbar and slowly rising, and the air temperature was 84ºF (29ºC). The water was calm with a slight ripple and an estimated downbound current of about 1 to 1 1/2 mph.

Tests and Research

Deep Draft Vessel Handling in Narrow Channels

According to the pilot of the Testbank, the major concern of pilots who navigate in the area is bank suction and bank cushion. A deep draft vessel tends to stay in the channel centerline because as the vessel moves toward a bank, according to the pilot of the Testbank, it will require that the pilot "start holding rudder into that bank depending on the ship's rudder power" in order to hold course. The pilot stated that he believes that with a good ship a pilot could get within 150 feet of the bank and still be able to hold the vessel, but that it would require 15 to 20 degrees of rudder. However, the pilot stated that this is dangerous because if, as the ships meet, one vessel gets too much bank suction and cushion, it "dives out across the bow of the oncoming vessel." The pilot stated that when he is in the middle of a channel and approaches very close to another vessel, about one-quarter to one-half mile away, "we both give substantial…right rudder, not bringing the vessel's head to the right in an exaggerated manner as to his the bank, but to bring the bow of your ship over gently but sharply to your own right for a one-whistle passage. The other vessel does likewise…they get abeam and they give opposite rudder…and get back out in the middle of the channel." The pilot testified that "that's the absolute safest way to meet" and, "…now the Testbank is an excellent ship. She has terrific rudder power." However, "If you get too close to the bank you would run out eventually."

Marine ship handling textbooks[5] refer to the bank cushion and bank suction phenomena attested to by the Testbank pilot. The reaction of a large vessel in a narrow channel to a nearby bank may generally be summarized as follows:[6]

When near a bank, the bow tends to veer away from the bank while the stern tends toward the bank.

Shipping Regulations

At the time of the accident, PCP was not regulated as a hazardous material[7] for marine shipment; however, recommendations of the Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organization (IMCO) did apply. In the Federal Register of Thursday, May 22, 1980, Vol. 45, No. 101, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) published a final rule effective November 20, 1980, which brought PCP under U.S. jurisdiction as a hazardous material that affects the environment (ORM-E). The new regulations are not significantly different from the IMCO standards; both specify packaging methods for the cargo stored in the container. However, while both permit either "on-deck" or "under-deck" stowage, the DOT regulations recommend, but do not require, that when both "on-deck" and "under-deck" stowage is authorized, "under-deck" should be used if available. The PCP storage on the Testbank was all above deck. (See figure 4). IMCO considers PCP a poison.

PCP Shipment

Vulcan Materials Company manufactured the PCP, packaged it, stored it on pallets, placed the pallets in two containers, sealed and shipped the containers by rail to Houston having it delivered to the dock. The PCP was properly contained in compliance with the IMCO recommendations. The U.S. Coast Guard did not inspect the contents of the containers at the plant or at the dock, nor was it required to. However, the U.S. Coast Guard is designated as the general enforcement authority for the DOT regulations for shipments of hazardous materials by water.
NTSB-MAR-81-8 MV Testbank and MV Seadaniel accident report.pdf

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The PCP was in 4-ply paper bags and each bag was individually wrapped with a "stretch wrap," which is a thin film of plastic wrapped continuously around the bags upward to the top and back down. Sixty 50-pound bags of PCP were stacked on each of the 12 36-inch by 42-inch wooden nonreturn pallets to obtain maximum use of the containers. Each bag had an EPA label that indicated it was a pesticide and provided the following information: product, trade name, technical name, instructions for use and hazard warnings.

The Testbank's "Dangerous Cargo Manifest" lists IMCO defined dangerous cargo on board and provides the port of loading of each container storage location on the vessel. The cargo manifest incorrectly lists PCP as a liquid; it should be listed as a solid.

Other Information

Pilotage in the MRGO

Pilotage was compulsory for the foreign vessels involved in the accident, and two pilot's associations serve the area. Pilotage is provided by the Associated Branch Pilots from the sea at the MRGO entrance to light 73, about 33 miles above the entrance, where they are relieved by the Crescent River Port Association Pilots who navigate the vessel to New Orleans.

Analysis

Operation of Testbank

The pilot boarded the Testbank with full knowledge expected traffic to be encountered outbound. He participated in the required pre-sailing conference with the master and ascertained that the foreign master spoke English fluently. The Testbank was navigated outbound without incident until the reach of the MRGO passing Shell Beach.

The Testbank pilot's actions of slowing the vessel and changing courses to the right while closely watching the Seadaniel were those of a prudent seaman. The Testbank was being navigated in a narrow shallow channel having a width of about the length of a vessel. About 2030 in the vicinity of the left turn to enter the reach at lights 103/104, the pilot of the Testbank reduced his vessel's speed to half ahead, about 9 to 10 mph, due to the fishermen's vessels in the area. Although he initially progressed down the channel centerline, he started moving the Testbank slowly off to the right-hand side of the channel when at least three or more miles distance from the approaching vessel. The speed was further reduced and the course was altered further to the right when the vessels were about 2 miles apart. About 2042, the Testbank's pilot was aware of a slight course divergence to the right by the Seadaniel and was closely watching the vessel's aspect as the Seadaniel came to its left to recover. By moving his vessel slightly to the right, the pilot of the Testbank had hoped to remove some of the psychological pressure on the Seadaniel's pilot during the passing. He observed a "gentle" steady swing of the Seadaniel to its left that appeared to be under control and capable of providing a safe passage. At 2043, about the same time he heard the Seadaniel's broadcast regarding an errant hard to port rudder, the pilot of the Testbank observed an increase in the rate of swing of the Seadaniel. Within a few seconds, he ordered the danger signal sounded and ordered the engine stopped and put astern. Taking into consideration the closeness of the right descending bank and also the approaching vessel, the pilot of the Testbank ordered the rudder hard to starboard, but this order could not have prevented the collision. Considering the amount of time and space available, there was little, if anything, the crew of the Testbank could have done to avoid the accident.

Operation of Seadaniel

The pilot of the Seadaniel navigated the vessel upbound in the MRGO, after relieving the Associated Branch pilot. The pilot did not discuss the vessel's characteristics with the master, but relied instead on a discussion with the Associated Branch pilot for details. WHile he did not check on the foreign crew's English language capability initially or when the watch changed, he observed their actions in response to his orders, found them satisfactory, and experienced no translation difficulties prior to the accident. In addition, he had a discussion with the vessel's master in English concerning the vessel's speed and did not experience any language difficulty.

While the helmsman had been following the master's instructions to repeat back all helm orders, the pilot was unable to state that he either listened for or heard a helm order repeated back. The pilot's system of ascertaining that his orders were correctly followed was by his own visual observation. In a close quarters situation, such as the meeting of the Seadaniel and the Testbank in the MRGO, time is critical. Critical time may be lost if visual observation is directed exclusively to the usually observed parameters of vessel motion such as bow swing, compass heading, or even the rudder angle indicator. This lost time is due to the combination of the reaction times of man and the ship. In this particular instance, the pilot's monitoring should have been directed regularly to the direction the helmsman moved the wheel. The pilot, therefore, would be aware that an order to the helmsman was understood and would be carried out in the proper direction.

When the vessel was on the Shell Beach reach of the MRGO, the pilot visually saw the Testbank before its turn into the reach about 5 1/2 to 7 miles away. The pilot properly used his radio to call the Testbank pilot on the bridge-to-bridge radio and agreed to a "one-whistle" meeting. The Seadaniel made the turn to the left to enter into the reach routinely and the pilot anticipated a routine meeting with the Testbank.

About 2042 when the pilot of the Seadaniel noticed the vessel's head swing slightly to the right, he ordered the vessel returned to the left to course 290º. When the pilot attempted to correct the vessel's course excursion to the right, he appeared "upset" to the ship's crew. In his orders to the crew, the pilot raised his voice and tried to explain to or "instruct" the bridge crew that it was necessary to follow his orders strictly because of the closeness of the left descending bank to his starboard and the closeness of the approaching Testbank ahead and slightly to the Seadaniel's port side. He attempted to convey this urgency to the crew, but because of the language differences his actions confused and upset the helmsman.

The ship's third mate, who was operating the engine order telegraph, could see and hear the response of the helmsman, but when he observed the vessel off course said nothing to the pilot or master because within a few seconds the pilot was aware of the error and was attempting to correct the vessel's heading.

The pilot of the Seadaniel felt that the vessel's swing to port to return to the ordered course was too rapid. In an attempt to check the vessel's swing to the left, the pilot had ordered hard to starboard on two occasions. The vessel's master and third mate heard both ordered clearly. The third mate stated that the helmsman initially did nothing but "swear a little bit" in response to the order and instructions did not change the position of the helm. The helmsman testified he did not properly respond to the pilot's order, the third mate said and did nothing. The master, who heard the orders and was in a position to be aware that the helmsman did not repeat back the pilot's initial order, and therefore, may not have understood it, did nothing. From his position on the port side forward of the bridge, the vessel's master could see neither the gyrocompass repeater nor the rudder angle indicator. He could, therefore, not ascertain with certainty the vessel's course, the position of the ship's wheel or could he, therefore, take steps to correct any error if one existed. The pilot saw the rudder angle indicator pointing hard left despite his hard right order and even pointed to the starboard when he gave the second order to indicate to the helmsman which way to turn. If the pilot had been more attentive to the helmsman's responses to the rudder orders or if he had simply required the helmsman to repeat his orders, bridge confusion on the Seadaniel and possibly accident may have been avoided. If either the master or third mate had carried out their responsibilities, instead of relying solely on the pilot's actions, again the confusion and the accident may have been avoided.

Position of the Vessels in the Channel

There is conflicting testimony as to the location of each vessel in the channel. While the crew of the Testbank and the pilot of the Seadaniel stated that the Testbank was on the proper side (to the right of the channel centerline on the descending side of the MRGO), the master of the Seadaniel and the operator of the Mandy Cenac stated that the Testbank was coming down the upbound side. The master of the Seadaniel based his statement on his visual observations of the Testbank. Since the master did not refer to a chart and was not familiar with two "dog-leg" turns in the area, he had the incorrect impression that the Testbank was coming down the wrong side. The Testbank was following a channel which, at the time of first sighting and for a period of time thereafter, was coming to the reach that the Seadaniel was on and may have appeared to be to the right of the channel centerline, but in fact was not. If the master had checked the navigational chart or utilized available radar, he would have been able to recognize the situation. Not only did he not check the chart, the master could not testify as to the movements of the Testbank because he "…was not paying attention…" The Testbank's aspect with relationship to the Seadaniel changed as the Testbank proceeded downbound, altering course three times to the right. The Seadaniel's master should have observed the changes but did not, possibly because he was not closely monitoring the Testbank's movements. The reason that the Seadaniel's master did not pay strict attention to the approaching Testbank could not be ascertained. The operator of the Mandy Cenac was confused in much of his testimony and therefore his impression of the vessel's position was considered unreliable in view of the other testimony. The Safety Board concluded that the Testbank was being navigated on the downbound side of the channel as testified to by the crew and pilot of the Testbank and the pilot of the Seadaniel.

The master and third mate of the Seadaniel stated that the Testbank was in the upbound side of the channel and that their vessel never crossed the channel centerline nor turned left. The pilot of the Testbank had estimated the relative collision angle to be 30º to 45º and the Seadaniel's pilot estimated the angle to be slightly less than 45º. Because of the available space in the channel, if the Testbank had been on the upbound side and if the Seadaniel did not cross the centerline, the Seadaniel could not have turned at this angle without going severely aground. (See figure 5.) Since there is no indication that grounding of the Seadaniel occurred, the Safety Board concluded that the Seadaniel did turn left, its bow crossed the channel centerline, and impacted the Testbank. The fact that the Seadaniel in the channel as testified to by the crew of the Testbank and the pilot of the Seadaniel.

If the testimony of the Seadaniel's master that the Testbank proceeded down the Seadaniel's side of the channel and into a collision with the Seadaniel were correct, the Board notes that there is no indication that he, as the vessel's master and that the person ultimately responsible for the safety of the Seadaniel, ever took any action whatsoever to attempt to prevent the collision, despite his testimony that he observed the Testbank closing from about 6 to 7 miles distance. His lack of action indicates his inability to be responsive to the safety needs of his vessel in an emergency or that the accident occurred in a different manner from his testimony, or both.

Bank Effect

The possibility that the turn to the left by the Seadaniel was due to bank effect was considered and rejected. The testimony of both the helmsman and the third mate of the Seadaniel was that the Seadaniel tended to steer to the right and required left rudder to hold the vessel on course. The need for left rudder before 2042 would indicate the vessel was too close to the left bank and being affected by the left bank rather than the right bank. It is clear from the existing testimony that the Seadaniel did not approach the left bank. It would have been possible, after the Seadaniel's slight course excursion to the right, to have approached the right bank sufficiently close to have discernible bank effect occur. Four factors, however, tend to rule out that bank effect alone caused this accident. First, the Seadaniel's speed reductions would have minimized bank effect. Second, the pilot of the Seadaniel saw the application of full left rudder on the Seadaniel's rudder angle indicator. Third, the testimony of the experienced pilot of the Testbank was that the Seadaniel's turn to the left was not a "sheer" as would have been expected if the effect of the bank had occurred. Fourth, application of left rudder coupled with bank effect would have enhanced the Seadaniel's left turning movement and the rate of turn would have been more severe than the testimony indicates. Further, the master of the Seadaniel testified that he did not believe his vessel turned left at all. Had a sheer due to bank effect occurred, it is hardly likely the master would not have been aware that it had. Thus, while the effect of the bank cannot be overlooked it must be ruled out based on the available evidence.

Regulations Affecting Packaged Shipment of Hazardous Material by Water

While no Federal regulations governing the waterborne shipment of PCP were in effect at the time of the accident, international recommendations concerning the stowage were in effect and were followed. If the U.S. Federal regulations that came into effect after the accident had been in effect before the accident, there would probably have been no change in the shipment, since the only substantial difference between the U.S. Federal regulations and the international recommendations for stowage is that the containers "should" be stowed under deck, if the alternative is available.

While the U.S. Coast Guard is the general enforcing agency for waterborne shipments of hazardous materials, there was no U.S. Coast Guard inspection of the contents, nor were any required. The U.S. Coast Guard port shipping checks are limited, when done, in part because the containers are generally sealed from the time of packaging. The seals may, of course, be broken, but such action would require special measures to insure that the security of the contents were not compromised. While the U.S. Coast Guard is charged with the responsibility for enforcement of the U.S. Department of Transportation's hazardous materials regulations for packaged shipments in vessels (49 CFR 171), the enforcement usually does not entail inspecting the contents of a sealed container loaded on a vessel to verify contents.

One aspect of the shipping regulations warrants attention for vessels navigating in two-way traffic in narrow canals. Most of the hazardous material containers were loaded in an exposed location either outboard or forward and all but one of the other hazardous material containers on deck were stored next to an exposed container. (See figure 4.) The stowage of containers holding hazardous materials in these exposed locations should be reexamined because of their susceptibility to damage by even a minor collision. The stowage of such containers near the centerline of a vessel may prevent minor collisions such as this accident from becoming major environmental events;
NTSB-MAR-81-8 MV Testbank and MV Seadaniel accident report.pdf

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containers that were located three positions inboard on the Testbank were not damaged. Alternately, the restriction of traffic to one-way operation during periods of dangerous cargo transit should be considered as a preventive measure.

Conclusions

Findings

  1. The Testbank was prudently navigated downbound in the MRGO by the pilot.
  2. The pilots of both the Testbank and the Seadaniel utilized bridge-to-bridge communications effectively.
  3. The master of the Seadaniel was aware of the only other major vessel in the channel approaching his vessel but could not say what that vessel's specific movements were because he "was not paying attention."
  4. The Seadaniel's pilot might have avoided this accident by listening for a repeat back of all rudder commands by the helmsman or by more closely observing the helmsman's response to each rudder command.
  5. The Seadaniel's pilot contributed to the confusion of the helmsman by raising his voice and lecturing to him in English about the need for maintaining course.
  6. The helmsman failed to understand the pilot's first order of hard to starboard.
  7. The master of the Seadaniel, who understood the pilot's first order of hard to starboard and who generally required that all rudder commands be repeated back, did not enforce this practice when the helmsman did not repeat back the order of hard to starboard. The master should have immediately advised the pilot that the helmsman had not repeated back the hard to starboard order.
  8. The third mate of the Seadaniel, who was aware that the helmsman was confused and did not properly respond to the pilot's order, did nothing. The third mate should have immediately advised the pilot that the helmsman did had not properly responded to the hard to starboard order.
  9. The Seadaniel came left across the channel centerline and collided with the Testbank.
  10. The Seadaniel's left turn was due to the improper application of left rudder by the helmsman when right rudder was ordered.
  11. Had the dangerous cargo containers on the Testbank been stowed at least three containers inboard from the side of the vessel, the major environmental pollution incident that resulted from this accident would not have occurred.
  12. An analysis of the traffic on the MRGO would be beneficial in determining whether one-way traffic during periods of dangerous cargo transit is warranted, in all or a portion of the channel.

Probable Cause

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the application of left rudder by the helmsman of the Seadaniel when the pilot had ordered right rudder. Contributing to this accident was the failure of the ship's officers on the bridge to take any positive action to correct the helmsman's error and the failure of the pilot and master to more closely observe the helmsman's responses to rudder orders in this close quarters situation.

Recommendations

As a result of this accident, the National Transportation Safety Board made the following recommendations:

—to the owners of Testbank:

Whenever possible, considering the various requirements for vessel safety and ports of call, require that containers with dangerous cargo carried on your vessels be stowed as near the centerline as possible, if "on-deck" stowage is utilized. (Class II, Priority Action) (M-81-36)

—to the U.S. Coast Guard:

In conjunction with the Materials Transportation Bureau and the National Cargo Bureau, Inc., conduct an evaluation of the requirement for the stowage of containerized dangerous cargo and, if practicable, require that "on-deck" containerized cargo be stowed as close to the centerline as possible. (Class II, Priority Action) (M-81-37)

If stowage of containerized dangerous cargo near the centerline is found to be practical, bring such a requirement to the attention of the appropriate IMCO subcommittee for adoption on the international level. (Class II, Priority Action) (M-81-38)

Conduct an analysis of Mississippi River Gulf Outlet Canal traffic and economics to determine if restricting major vessel traffic to owe-way operation for designated time periods and in particular locations during dangerous cargo transit is warranted. (Class II, Priority Action) (M-81-39)

—to the Materials Transportation Bureau:

In conjunction with the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Cargo Bureau, Inc., conduct an evaluation of the requirement for the stowage of containerized dangerous cargo and, if practicable, require that "on-deck" containerized dangerous cargo be stowed as close to the centerline as possible. (Class II, Priority Action) (M-81-40)

—to the National Cargo Bureau, Inc.

In conjunction with the U.S. Coast Guard and the Material Transportation Bureau, conduct an evaluation of the requirement for the stowage of containerized dangerous cargo and, if practicable, require that "on-deck" containerized dangerous cargo be stowed as close to the centerline as possible. (Class II, Priority Action) (M-81-41)


NotesEdit

  1. All times are central daylight saving time based on a 24-hour clock.
  2. The Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Eighth Edition, published by Van Nostrand Reinhold Company lists baryites as "barium sulfate [baryites (natural)…] B6SO4 Properties: White or yellowish, odorless, tasteless powder…Nontoxic…Noncombustible… Uses: Weighting mud in oil drilling…"
  3. All courses are given in degrees true.
  4. The information contained herein was derived from Lloyd's Register of Shipping publication "Record of Ships 1980-1981."
  5. For example, see Modern Seamanship, by Austin M. Knight, (Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, New York, 1972, 15th edition.)
  6. For a more detailed discussion of a deeply loaded vessel's maneuverability in a shallow, narrow channel, see Marine Accident Report--"Collision of U.S. Towboat Brazos with Bermudan Bulk Carrier Fort Calgary, Houston Ship Channel, August 2, 1980" (NTSB-MAR-81-1).
  7. While the U.S. DOT regulations generally refer to the term "hazardous material," the IMCO recommendations are contained in a "dangerous goods" code and the separate ships manifest, which lists the material, is called a "dangerous cargo" manifest. Additionally, the U.S. EPA regulations utilize the term "hazardous substance." The terms used in this report were made to conform to the use of the term in practice.



BY THE NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD

/s/ Elwood T. Driver
Vice Chairman

/s/ G. H. Patrick Bursley
Member

James B. King, Chairman, and Patricia A. Goldman, Member, did not participate.

Francis H. McAdams, Member, filed the following concurring and dissenting statement.

I do not agree with the majority opinion wherein it is concluded that contributing to the cause of this accident was the failure of the pilot of the Seadaniel to more closely observe the helmsman's response to rudder orders.

The pilot was immediately aware that the helmsman had not followed his order of hard right rudder when he saw that the rudder angle indicator was pointing hard left. At this point he again ordered hard right rudder, accompanied by a hand signal, neither of which was obeyed by the helmsman.

In my opinion the pilot took immediate reasonable and prudent action to avoid the collision, but to no avail.

June 10, 1981



Appendix A

Cargo Container Damage (Provided by the Testbank's Master)
(*indicates a hazardous cargo)

Container No. Location Contents Damage
TPKU 2283267 030882 Methyl Creosote* Slight indent
ICSU 2311322 060886 Food Stuffs Side ripped open
contents intact
TOLU 2123201 060884 Soybean Protein "
SSIU 4073545 060882 Scrap "
SCXU 2897052 090884 Empty Slight
BKLU 2602704 090882 Hydrobromic acid* Side ripped open
contents gone in water TPKU
2283858 110884 Lube oil Overboard
ICSU 3056937 110882 Mixed freight Completely smashed
contents overboard
ITLU 5031351 140886 Household goods Overboard
SICSU 2355286 140884 Scrap metal Overboard
ICSU 2113098 140882 Mixed freight Ripped open
contents overboard
SSIU 2566120 170884 PCP* Overboard ITLU
621075 170882 PCP* Slight; intact
SCXU 6133767 190884 Cotton Ripped open
contents dispersed
TTLUX 6137109 190882 PCP* Slight; intact
SCSU 2386940 220886 Tires Hanging over side
CTIU 4123180 220884 Resin Ripped open
contents outside
CTIU 4286130 220882 Ethyl merceptan* Squeezed, squashed;
contents leaking out

Appendix B

Crewmember Information

Seadaniel

Pilot Clement B. Hingle

Clement B. Hingle, 51, at the time of the accident was a pilot with the Louisiana State Commission of River pilots, for the Crescent River Port Pilot's Association, New Orleans, Louisiana, unit #26. He had worked as a pilot about 18 1/2 years. Before becoming a Crescent River Pilot, he had been employed for 10 years with the Port Sulphur Company as a mate and captain of a river towboat. He held a first-class pilot's license, unlimited tonnage, from the Huey P. Long Bridge to sea, via South and Southwest Pass, Lake Ponchartrain to the Industrial Canal, Michod Turn, and also from the Intracostal Waterway to sea on the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet. He was a pilot for 3 to 4 years before the MRGO was opened as a ship channel. He has been navigating MRGO for about 15 years as a pilot and had piloted vessels similar to the Seadaniel "many times."

Master Yung Kwang Tien

Yung Kwang Tien, 57, held a Seaman's Certificate #954485 and was issued a "Captains" authorization on February 16, 1967, by the Consul General of Panama at Hong Kong. He was also issued a current Masters "Certificate of Capacity #10124" by the Consul General of Panama at Hong Kong on June 23, 1978, a "License of Competence to Merchant Marine Officer" dated December 2, 1971, as Master from the Democratic Republic of Somalia, at Paris, France, and a "License of Competence to Merchant Marine" dated April 26, 1977 as Master by the Republic of Liberia.

He graduated from the Navigation Department of the "Communication University" in China and received his second mate's license about 1949, and his chief mate's license from British authorities about 1962. In 1965, he received his first master's license from Liberia, Panama, and Somalia.

Helmsman Keung Chi Chau

Keung Chi Chau, 40, had been on board the Seadaniel for 2 months at the time of the accident, after joining the ship in Panama. He had been sailing since 1962 but this was his first time up the MRGO. He started as a deck hand, and had been a quarter master for 6 or 7 years. His seaman's papers were issued by the government of Hong Kong. He did not speak English, but understood course and rudder comments in English which he learned while sailing as a deck hand. He assisted in steering upon the Seadaniel's departure from Panama, steering the vessel in the canal about 4 hrs, and was steering when the ship arrived in Tsam Kong, China.

Third Mate Au Veung Yuk Yam

Au Veung Yuk Yam, 40, had been on the Seadaniel since June 9, 1980, about 1 1/2 months. He had been sailing since 1963 and had been a third mate since 1971. He sailed as a "sailor" and a helmsman before being licensed as a third mate by the Panama Consulate in Hong Kong. With the consent and endorsement of the company and the captain, he was qualified as a third mate after undergoing training on board ship; he had had no formal training. He was issued a second mate's license by the Panamanian Consulate on July 27, 1976, in Hong Kong, qualifying on the basis of at least 3 years experience as a third made; he had four. There was no qualifying examination for either license. His radar training was on board a ship during its routine operation.

Testbank

Pilot Douglas J. Grubbs

Douglas J. Grubbs, 36, at the time of the accident was a pilot with the Louisiana State Commission of River Pilots and the Crescent River Pilot's Association, unit #78. He was licensed for the Mississippi River from Huey P. Long Bridge to the Head of the Pass, Industrial Canal to Lake Ponchartrain, and MRGO to Light 78. He had been a pilot for 11 years, and was licensed since 1966. He started sailing as a deck hand and mate on local harbor tugs and seagoing tugs from about 1963 until 1969. He had sailed about 5 years as a tugboat master, including service on oceangoing tugs, before becoming a Crescent River Port Pilot. He had been sailing on the MRGO since 1964 and had piloted many ships similar to the Testbank, but had never piloted the Testbank before. He estimated that he had piloted over 1,000 ships in the 11 years he had worked on MRGO.

Master Willfried Simmat

Willfried Simmat, 41, had been master of the Testbank since it was launched in September/October 1978. He had been sailing as a master for 16 years and had sailed for 9 years before that. He started as a deck boy and then became an AB, working up to apprentice officer. He went to "nautical school" and received his officer's license. He sailed 3 years as an officer, returned to school, and obtained his master's license. He had sailed about nine consecutive trips using the MRGO to New Orleans. Captain Simmat held a license as master issued at Aurich, Germany, on September 1, 1964, a radio operator's license issued on December 20, 1974, at Bremen Germany, and an engineer's license for up to 600 hp issued at Kiel, Germany on April 1, 1957.

Helmsman Michael Simmat

Michael Simmat, 17, works as an officer apprentice on board the Testbank. He had been on board about 6 weeks but had previously made a trip on the vessel on the MRGO the preceding year. He had been working summers on board ships with his father for 5 or 6 years. His seaman's papers were issued in Germany. For the past year, he had been enrolled in a Merchant Marine Officers School.


 

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).