Typhoon Consun, known as Basyang in the Philippines, was a forceful reminder to MAC that it was time to pay attention to bad weather issues. Six ships grounded with the death of a master around the Bataan Peninsula , home to petrochemical plants and oil terminals, dozens of fishermen are dead or missing, an undersea oil pipeline was breached by the anchor of a drifting barge leading to an oil spill in Cavite and MAC itself was effectively put offline for three days.
So, let’s look at what, sadly expects to see, again, this rainy season.
One doesn’t have to be psychic to know we’ll see ships dragging anchors and grounding over the next few months.
Two phrases come to mind: “Taking coals to Newcastle” and “Any port in a storm”. Newcastle, Australia is not a great place to be in a storm, as the master of the Pasha Bulker discovered. It’s a poor anchorage in bad weather, it says so in the pilot publication, but nobody brought it to to the master’s, or anybody else’s attention.
Check out your port/anchorage, make sure any weather-related hazards are highlighted in the passage plan, ensure anyone likely to be on watch and the master are aware, stay up to date with the weather reports – typhoons are notoriously unpredictable, review your anchoring strategy. Do not wait for VTS to tell you to leave the port/anchorage. Keep an anchor watch.
Mooring lines store immense amounts of energy and storms add more. Any weakness in the arrangements comes under increased stress. The result is parted lines snapping dangerously across the deck or the wharf with deadly force.
Now is a good time to examine mooring ropes and replace any showing wear and tear. Check winches that may come under increased stress and shackles. Consider protective arrangements like cages for personnel supervising mooring operations.
Keep up to date with weather reports. Monitor mooring arrangements as weather progresses.
Mangalore iron ore is a particular perennial because storage conditions are less that ideal at this time of year leading to increased moisture in the fines. A bit of rocking in the hold and the cargo starts sloshing around and can bring a ship to grief very quickly.
An enhanced hazard is that ships’ officers and others have been threatened with harm for refusing to carry an unsafe cargo.