Sep 082011

Bridge after the accident

Bigger containerships may mean more hazards for those on the bridge warns Germany’s Federal Bureau of Maritime Casualty Investigation, BSU, in its newly-released report on the death of a third officer about the CCNI Guayas in June this year. It is the third similar incident to be investigated by the BSU since late 2009.

With the vessel rolling in typhoon Koppu at up to 35 degrees with periods of eight seconds, the officer lost his hold, slipped and was tossed back and forth across the bridge until being stopped by the master and placed on a chair. The officer later died of his injuries.

Initially, the third officer did not appear to be badly hurt and it was only after he had been placed in a chair by the master that he began to lose consciousness.

Most obvious of the lessons is to ensure that there are enough handrails on a bridge and to ensure that papers and other items are stowed appropriately. The photograph of the bridge after the incident shows a sea of objects that would have been swept across the floor of the bridge and may have led to the third officer falling.

Such large bridges, if not fitted with handrails, and possibly anchor points to which a stretcher could be fixed, increase the dangers in such circumstances.

Says the BSU report: “Large modern container vessels are, regardless of the area of operation, prone to absorbing high levels of swell moments because of their large bow flare. Stability of the vessel and roll moments, roll accelerations and
roll damping are directly related. Vessels with insufficient stability are at risk of capsizing due to excessive rolling; in the case of too much stability, there is a risk that cargo maybe lost and a risk to the crew due to excessive roll accelerations.
Structural measures, such as bilge keels, do not represent an adequate means of minimising rolling effectively. Other structural measures, such as gravity tanks, roll damping tanks, anti-rolling stabilisers, etc., should introduced at the planning stage in order to achieve greater roll damping”.

Of particular note is the result of expert analyses of stability and roll issues: “with a probability bordering on certainty the accident would not have happened if the vessel was loaded differently – notably, if ballast water was dispensed with. This is because the stability of the vessel does not change significantly with the associated floating condition, but the roll moments transmitted to the vessel by the sea do. However, there is no way the crew could have known this because to
establish this load case they would have had to contravene known safety rules of the stability book. And to set sail with a load condition that does not comply with the rules set forth in the stability book in every respect can by no means be regarded as good seamanship. Conversely, the calculations have shown clearly that the accident would have happened in the same manner with a load that complied with the approved stability book because the accelerations were comparable with those of the accident situation…. significantly higher accelerations occurred during the accident than those on which the remark of the approving organisation is based, which pertains to cargo safety, but not to
the safety of the people on board. Although only ballast water, and no containers, was on board in the load case relevant to the accident, one should assume that the protection of commercial goods does not take priority over the protection of humans.

“…it becomes evident that the cargo securing manual is not fit for purpose in terms of setting an upper limit for stability; therefore, in reality there is no stability limit”.

Notes the report: “This investigation of the accidents involving the CCNI GUAYAS, the FRISIA LISSABON, the CHICAGO EXPRESS and also the calculations of the TUHH made in the course of a thesis demonstrate that such accidents can only be avoided in the future if sufficient attention is paid to the effects of the sea state during the vessel
design and approval stage”.

BSU Report

Chicago Express