APL Sydney Gas Pipeline Rupture – Comms The Snag

 Accident, Accident report, Anchorage, anchoring., contact, containership  Comments Off on APL Sydney Gas Pipeline Rupture – Comms The Snag
Apr 282010

Ethane bubbles to the surface, potential for explosion

What you see in the photograph is the result of a ruptured ethane gas pipe in Port Phillip, Australia. It was the result of poor communications, culture gap, key players kept out of the information loop and a pilot’s unchallenged decision to try and dredge the anchor of a drifting containership, APL Sydney.

It is an excellent example of a holistic accident and perhaps a timely reminder, with typhoons on the way to brush-up on anchoring in bad weather.

At 1428 on 13 December 2008, the Hong Kong registered container ship APL Sydney’s starboard anchor was let go in Melbourne anchorage. Four minutes later, the pilot left the bridge and by 1436, he had disembarked the ship. The 35 knot south-southwest wind was gusting to 48 knots. A submarine gas pipeline lay 6 cables (1.1 km) downwind.

By 1501, after dragging its anchor, the ship was outside the anchorage boundary. The master advised harbour control he intended to weigh anchor and was instructed to maintain position and wait for a pilot. At 1527, when weighing anchor was started after receiving permission from harbour control, the ship was within 50 m of the pipeline. While weighing anchor, the anchor dragged across the pipeline, snagged it at about 1544 and, subsequently, the anchor windlass failed.

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AMSA Advises Hookers

 AMSA, anchoring., grounding  Comments Off on AMSA Advises Hookers
Jul 092008

With the typhoon season getting well underway the Australian Maritime Safety Authority has issued anchoring guidelines to help masters avoid joining Pasha Bulker on the ‘Oops Roster’. They might also be useful to bear in mind when dropping the hook elsewhere in a storm.

The influence of the Pasha Bulker incident is apparent in the AMSA Marine Safety Notice. In addition to Pasha Bulker, several others vessels found themselves in trouble in the same storm in part because they had not taken on extra ballast to meet the weather conditions.

AMSA advises: “At all times ballast condition must be maintained so that the ship’s propeller is fully submerged and the vessel’s forward draught and trim are such that the requirements of the vessel’s stability book are maintained and forward slamming is prevented. In the event that deteriorating weather is forecast the Master must make a timely decision to take on heavy weather ballast before conditions become so extreme that ballasting becomes a risky operation.”

During the Pasha Bulker storm, several ships expected Newcastle Vessel Traffic Information Centre, VTIC, to instruct them whether or not to leave the anchor and get underway but the VTIC didn’t have that authority. Says AMSA “The Master must assess the wind and sea conditions and get the vessel underway whenever necessary. He should not wait for instructions from the harbour VTS or port authority, whether in a designated anchorage within port limits or not, if the Master considers the safety of the ship requires such action.”

Where port authorities do not designate an anchorage AMSA reminds masters to take into account “Ample swinging room to be left from charted dangers and other vessels… Good holding ground must be sought whenever possible. Recommendations may be found in Admiralty Sailing Directions and commercially available port guides….An adequate amount of cable, based on a

published well-tried formula and the Master’s experience of the vessel, is to be veered.”

In line with the requirements of STCW, AMSA says: “It is absolutely essential that routines are in place so that the ship’s position is regularly checked. Use of GPS, ECS systems, bearings and radar ranges is recommended. Prevailing weather, predicted weather, tidal streams, proximity of land and traffic congestion at the anchorage must be taken in to account when specifying the position checking routine.”

Keep an eye on the weather and be aware of how vessels at anchor may be affected by local conditions. Says AMSA: “For example intense depressions may form in the Tasman Sea which engender galeforce winds and heavy seas off the south-east coast ports. Ports on the Queensland and north-west coasts are subject to tropical cyclones (typhoons) of extreme violence.

It is essential that the Master monitors current weather forecasts and warnings. Weather forecast

services are contained in the Admiralty List of Radio signals Vol 3 part 2. The Australian Bureau of Meteorology makes available coastal forecasts and warnings on their internet site: www.bom.gov.au.”

Because of the threast of sudden and unexpected extreme weather conditions, AMSA advises: “Ideally the main engines, steering gear, or windlass must not be dismantled or immobilised whilst at anchor as conditions may deteriorate at short notice. If defect rectification makes work on any of these machinery items essential, the situation should be advised to the harbour VTS for their information and on-forwarding to the relevant harbour master and/or port authority. Appropriate notice for sea will be required to mobilise machinery.”

Current AMSA notices can be downloaded here.