Maritime Safety & Security News – 28 June 2009

 contact/allison, helicopter, oil pollution, oil spill, piracy  Comments Off on Maritime Safety & Security News – 28 June 2009
Jun 282009

Seven die in late-night helicopter crash ‘Tragic end to routine
By Webmaster
were instantaneously killed late on Sunday night when a Westland-Sikorsky S55 helicopter, in which they were making a regular nine-minute flight from land to an offshore oil-drilling rig, crashed into the sea about one mile from the

Fire razes a ship in West Lombok
Jakarta Post – Jakarta,Indonesia
Fire razed a passenger ship berthed at Lembar Harbor, West Lombok on Saturday. No fatalities were reported. The Nusa Sejahtera ship was under maintenance

Freighter crashes into pier at Port of Hueneme
Ventura County Star – Camarillo,CA,USA
Coast Guard officials from Santa Barbara were investigating the accident this afternoon. It is not known whether the ship will have to stay in port for

Coast Guard rescues sinking vessel in strait – KNDO/KNDU Tri
SEATTLE (AP) – A Coast Guard cutter from Port Angeles prevented a fishing vessel from sinking Wednesday night in the Strait of Juan de Fuca (FEW’-kuh) where

Coast Guard approves cruise ship movement to dry dock for repairs
By cgnews
Further investigation by the Coast Guard team identified 16 discrepancies including lifesaving, fire fighting, safety, and other maintenance deficiencies. Underwater divers hired by the cruise ship company have located the crack in the

Lady Mary owner’s theory says ship’s wave sank boat
Smith noted that lone Lady Mary survivor Jose Luis Arias was asleep and did not wake to the sound of a collision. Tim Smith woke up Arias, who said he immediately noticed water in the boat. "The bulbous bow pushes water ahead of it,

Facing the music

A Hapag-Lloyd containership that ploughed into a more than four mile long seismic streamer array being towed by an offshore survey vessel in the Gulf of Mexico has been judged to be two thirds responsible for the $25m of damage caused.

Loud music was playing on the bridge of the 3,200-teu St Louis Express (built 2002) judged by a London admiralty court to be mainly culpable for the costly incident.

Gibraltar is responsible for the New Flame sinking
Ecologistas en Acción – Spain
Gibraltarian government’s negligence led to the vessel’s sinking New Flame. This ship was loaded with 42000 tons of scrap metal and characteristics of the

California coastal herring fishery to close
Sacramento Bee – CA, USA
Early evidence also suggests pollution from the Cosco Busan oil spill in November 2007 may have harmed spawning that year, depressing the population that

Maritime Global Net – Warren,RI,USA
BP Marine has agreed to supply the Mission to Seafarers Dubai-run seafarer support vessel Flying Angel with her lube oil requirements for the following



Background Briefing on US Assistance to the Somalia Transitional …
US Department of State – Washington,DC,USA
The governments of Uganda and Burundi have troops on the ground in Mogadishu in support of the TFG, and we have provided material assistance to the TFG


Off The Radar

Ossining – Vessel in Distress – 06-26-09 –
Fire Apparatus Collision Repair 1811hrs-WCPD HQ advising Marine-4 that the vessel in distress is a 28′ sailboat, white in color, no other markings. Its sails are down, there are (4) females & (1) canine aboard, all wearing life vests.

(Good to know even the dog had a life-vest)

Maritime Safety & Security News – 20 June 2009

 Accident report, fire, grounding  Comments Off on Maritime Safety & Security News – 20 June 2009
Jun 202009

Enough drinking water provided to crew of MV ‘Captain Ali’
Indopia – India
Chennai , Jun 20 Amid reports that the crew had no fresh water on board a vessel carrying relief material for displaced Tamils in Sri Lanka

Intense fire breaks out on Coast Guard ship
TheDigitel – Charleston,SC,USA
While dry-docked in Charleston for millions in repairs, an isolated but intense fire broke out on the Coast Guard Cutter Gallatin around 11 am on Friday

Royal Princess Cruises Cancelled Due to Engine Room Fire
Cruise Critic – Pennington,NJ,USA
According to the latest statement from Princess Cruises, a fire that broke out in the ship’s engine room on Thursday has caused enough damage that Royal

CBS 5 – San Francisco,CA,USA
Fleet Management Ltd. was the ship operator, in charge of training and supervising the crew, when the Cosco Busan hit a fender of the Bay Bridge


Commandos on French warship turn over 11 pirate prisoners for
Washington Examiner – Washington,DC,USA
France has traditionally been aggressive in fighting piracy. This was its ninth military operation against suspected pirates.

A Little Fed Finaigling For Cosco Busan

 maritime accidents  Comments Off on A Little Fed Finaigling For Cosco Busan
Jun 192009

There’s nothing quite as impressive to watch as a lawyer on the make. Take this federal attorney prosecuting Fleet Management in a San Francisco court.

John Upton of the San Francisco Examiner tells an interesting tale of legal eagle skulduggery: “Attorneys filed court documents May 11 on behalf of ship operator Fleet Management Ltd. offering to plead guilty to environmental misdemeanors… Those violations would ordinarily carry a maximum fine of hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

But the Fed want to hit Fleet Management for $40m, so planned to “ use the Alternative Fines Act to enhance one of the penalties, but, by May 11, it still had not filed the necessary court documents.” says Upton. That plan would fall through if the judge accepted Fleet Management’s guilty plea before a new indictment was filed, so the plan looked doomed.

Up steps Washington, D.C.-based prosecutor Richard Udell who tells the judge that he won’t be available for a court hearing on 26 May because “that would necessitate my traveling on Memorial Day (May 25), which I would like to avoid if possible.” He wanted to spend that day with his wife and children in Washington DC. So the hearing was moved to 27 May.

Says Upton: “But Udell did not spend Memorial Day with his kids. Instead, according to his court filings, he changed his plans and flew on Memorial Day to San Francisco, where he secured the needed indictment before the hearing.”


You can read John Upton’s report here.

Communication, Cosco Busan And Sex With A Duck

 allision, containership, maritime accidents, NTSB, Oakland, oil spill, pilotage  Comments Off on Communication, Cosco Busan And Sex With A Duck
May 092009

What, you might wonder, would bring together the NTSB, the IMO, the contact of  the Cosco Busan with the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and a senior loan officer at a bank in Spokane, Washington, having sexual relations with a Mallard duck?

The NTSB has just released the full report of the Cosco Busan incident and among the issues is that of communications, problems of which are involved in about one in five maritime incidents.

That’s why it is good practice to confirm that information has been understood and that its importance is appreciated.

On the Cosco Busan the voyage data recorder recorded the following conversation between the Pilot and the Master:

Pilot:  “What are these… ah… red [unintelligible]?”
The master responded, “This is on bridge.”

The pilot then said to the master, “I couldn’t figure out what the red light… red… red triangle was.”

The Pilot took this to mean that the red triangles marked the centre of the span when, in fact they indicated the buoys marking the bridge support which the ship later hit. The Master did not realise the importance of the question.

Later, as things unravelled:

Pilot: [unintelligible] you said this was the center of the bridge.
Master: Yes.
Pilot: No, this is the center. That’s the tower. This is the tower. That’s why we hit it. I thought that was the center.
Master: It’s a buoy. [unintelligible] the chart.
Pilot: Yeah, see. No, this is the tower. I asked you if that was [unintelligible]. . . .
Captain, you said it was the center.
Master: Cen… cen… cen… center.
Pilot: Yeah, that’s the bridge pier [expletive]. I thought it was the center.

Says the NTSB report “Shortly after this conversation, the master can be heard saying, in Mandarin, “He should have known—this is the center of the bridge, not the center of the channel.”

In many Asian cultures ‘yes’ does not necessarily mean an affirmative, oner can pick from a range of meanings that would not naturally occur to a Westerner.

(The curiosities and confusion of language are touched upon in Bob Couttie’s new, lighthearted book, Chew The Bones, which you can buy from Amazon and the proceed of which will help support MAC)

In a recommendation letter to US Coast Guard commander Thad Allen the NTSB wrote: “The Safety Board therefore recommends that the Coast Guard propose to the IMO that it include a segment on cultural and language differences and their possible influence on mariner performance in its bridge resource management curricula.”

It’s tempting to think that closely allied languages like English and American present less opportunity for confusion, but you would be wrong. Take this example from Snopes’ wonderful Urban Legend site:

“Armstrong proceeded to shag ducks…”

You can read the rest of the story here. While mallards are known to have a somewhat ‘out there’ sex life, sex acts between humans and 10 days old ducklings are further out than most would want to go.

Apparently ‘to shag’ in American means to catch baseballs, to us Brits it has a rather different connotation.

The lesson is clear: communication is transmitting information, receiving information and understanding information. It’s vital to double each each part of that process, that the communication is understood and verified.

Otherwise, you could end up being shagged by lawyers, and not like a duck.

NTSB On Cosco Busan: Unfit, Ineffective, Incompetent

 allision  Comments Off on NTSB On Cosco Busan: Unfit, Ineffective, Incompetent
Feb 192009

Investigators for the US National Transportation Safety Board claim that the pilot conducting the Cosco Busan was unit, the master “ineffective” and the crew poorly trained.

The NTSB has issued the following statement:

“The National Transportation Safety Board says that a medically unfit pilot, an ineffective master, and poor communications between the two were the cause of an accident in which the Cosco Busan
container ship spilled thousands of gallons of fuel oil into the San Francisco Bay after striking a bridge support tower.

On November 7, 2007, at about 8:00 a.m. PST, in heavy fog with visibility of less than a quarter mile, the Hong Kong-registered, 901-foot-long container ship M/V Cosco Busan left its berth in the Port of Oakland destined for South Korea. The San Francisco Bay pilot, who was attempting to navigate the ship between the Delta and Echo support towers of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, issued directions that resulted in the ship heading directly toward the Delta support tower. While avoiding a direct hit, the side of the
ship struck the fendering system at the base of the Delta tower, which created a 212-foot-long gash in the ship’s forward port side and breached two fuel tanks and a ballast tank.

As a result of striking the bridge, over 53,000 gallons of fuel oil were released into the Bay, contaminating about 26 miles of shoreline and killing more than 2,500 birds of about 50 species. Total monetary damages were estimated at $2 million for the ship, $1.5 million for the bridge, and
more than $70 million for environmental cleanup.

“How a man who was taking a half-dozen impairing prescription medications got to stand on the bridge of a 68,000-ton ship and give directions to guide the vessel through a foggy bay and under a busy highway bridge, is very troubling, and raises a great many questions about the adequacy of the medical oversight system for mariners,” said Acting Chairman Mark V. Rosenker.

In its determination of probable cause, the Safety Board cited three factors: 1) the pilot’s degraded cognitive performance due to his use of impairing prescription medications; 2) the lack of a comprehensive pre-departure master/pilot exchange and a lack of effective communication
between the pilot and the master during the short voyage; and 3) the master’s ineffective oversight of the pilot’s performance and the vessel’s progress.

Contributing to the cause of the accident, the Board cited 1) the ship’s operator, Fleet Management, Ltd., for failing to properly train and prepare crew members prior to the accident voyage, and for failing to adequately ensure that the crew understood and complied with the company’s safety
management system; and 2) the U.S. Coast Guard for failing to provide adequate medical oversight of the pilot.

“Given the pilot’s medical condition, the Coast Guard should have revoked his license, but they didn’t; the pilot should have made the effort to provide a meaningful pre-departure
briefing to the master, but he didn’t; and the master should have taken a more active role in ensuring the safety of his ship, but he didn’t,” said Rosenker. “There was a lack of
competence in so many areas that this accident seemed almost inevitable.”

As a result of its investigation, the Safety Board made a total of eight safety recommendations. In its five to the U.S. Coast Guard, the Board recommended that it 1) ask the
International Maritime Organization to address cultural and language differences in its bridge resource management curricula; 2) revise policies to ensure that, in its radio
communications, the Vessel Traffic Service, VTS, identifies the vessel, not only the pilot; 3) provide guidance to VTS personnel that defines expectations for when their authority
to direct or control vessel movement should be exercised; 4) require mariners to report any substantive changes in their health or medication use that occur between required
medical evaluations; and 5) ensure that pilot oversight organizations share relevant performance and safety data with each other, including best practices.

The Board recommended that Fleet Management Limited 1) ensure that all new crewmembers are thoroughly familiar with vessel operations and company safety procedures; and 2)
provide safety management system manuals in the working language of the crew.

The Safety Board also recommended that the American Pilots’ Association remind its members of the value and importance of a verbal master/pilot exchange, and encourage its pilots
to include the master in all discussions involving the navigation through pilotage waters.

Two safety recommendations on medical oversight previously made to the U.S. Coast Guard as a result of an accident in 2005 were closed due to improvements the Coast Guard had
made in its reporting procedures.

A synopsis of the Board’s report, including the probable cause, conclusions, and recommendations, will be available on February 19 on the NTSB’s website,, under
“Board Meetings.” The Board’s full report will be available on the website in several weeks.

Pilot Responsible For Cosco Busan – Pilot Commissioners

 pilotage  Comments Off on Pilot Responsible For Cosco Busan – Pilot Commissioners
Oct 262008

Captain John Cota, the pilot aboard the Cosco Busan when it made contact with the Delta tower of the San Francisco-Oakland Bridge on 7 November 2007, has been found responsible for the accident through misconduct. Some 120,000 litres of bunker were spilled, the ship suffered a 70 metre by four metre gash in its hull. Six crewmembers of the Cosco Busan have been detained without charges since the incident pending a criminal trial scheduled for November in which Cota and the ship’s manager, Fleet, are to be defendants.

The Incident Review Committee of The Board of Pilot Commissioners For San Francisco, San Pablo and Suisun, concluded that Captain Cota, prior to getting underway, failed to utilize all available resources to determine visibility conditions along his intended route when it was obvious that he would have to make the transit to sea in significantly reduced visibility; That he exhibited significant concerns about the condition of the ship’s radar and a lack of familiarity with the ship’s electronic chart system, but then failed to properly take those concerns into account in deciding to proceed; That, considering the circumstances of reduced visibility and what Captain Cota did and did not know about the ship and the conditions along his intended route, he failed to exercise sound judgment in deciding to get underway; That he failed to ensure that his plans for the transit and how to deal with the conditions of reduced visibility had been clearly communicated and discussed with the master; That, once underway, he proceeded at an unsafe speed for the conditions of visibility; That, when he began making his approach to the Bay Bridge, he noted further reduced visibility and then reportedly lost confidence with the ship’s radar. While he could have turned south to safe anchorage to await improved visibility or to determine what, if anything was wrong with the radar, he failed to exercise sound judgment and instead continued on the intended transit of the M/V Cosco Busan, relying solely on an electronic chart system with which he was unfamiliar; and that Captain Cota failed to utilize all available resources to determine his position before committing the ship to its transit under the Bay Bridge.

The board investigation did not have the authority to examine or comment on whether others on the bridge at the time shared responsibility. One of the most common elements in incidents to ships under pilotage is poor bridge resource management. The report comments: “As Captain Cota approached the Bay Bridge, visibility began to deteriorate. (he) still had the option of utilizing VTS to fix his position and/or abandon the transit and use the availability of Anchorage 8 or 9. In addition, he had the availability of crew members to fix the vessel’s position, and potentially the vessel’s lookouts to identify any structures. None of these resources were utilized. Instead, Captain Cota continued to rely exclusively on resources in which he had limited or no confidence.”

At the time of the incident the master of the Cosco Busan, Captain Sun, and his crew had been aboard the vessel for just two weeks.

In June this year Captain Cota surrendered his California state pilot licence and retired as of 1 October. Says the report: “It should also be noted that, as Captain Cota has turned in his state pilot license and retired, this matter did not go through a full evidentiary hearing before an administrative law judge. Accordingly, this report reflects only the findings and conclusions of the IRC without having afforded the pilot an opportunity to test the evidence relied upon by the IRC in an administrative hearing. Furthermore, because of ongoing litigation, many witnesses were inaccessible. Under the Board’s regulations, this report by the IRC is nevertheless required.”

Relevant information:

Commission Report

Not Being John Cota

Cosco Busan Trial, Testing The Waters?

Pilot Terror

Cosco Busan Detainees – Where are the T-Shirts?

Cosco Busan Pilot Claims The 5th

US Justice Department statement on Cosco Busan Pilot

Cosco Busan Pilot Charged With Misconduct

Pilotage related Podcasts:

The Case Of The Baffling Bays

The Case Of The Confused Pilot

Cosco Busan Update

 accident reporting, allision, bridge, containership  Comments Off on Cosco Busan Update
Sep 202008

Our good feiwend John Konrad of the great gCaptain site sent us the following email. It’s certainly worth clicking the clicks:

It’s been a few months since I sent those interested in the Cosco Busan an email. My apologies, the incident in New Orleans has been time consuming. As you might have seen on our blog, we recently had the privilege to reprint an article Paul Drouin wrote for Seaways magazine. (LINK: )

Our friend Professor Kurt Schwehr helped us with some of the initial AIS analysis and has compiled the radar images of the incident on his blog. Take a look:

Meanwhile, John Upton of the San Francisco Examiner give us an update on the Cosco Busan detainees here:

John is the only journalist - indeed the only person in 'liberal' San Francisco, taking an interest in the situation regarding the Cosco Busan detainees, who haven't been charged but are being held as 'material witnesses' contrary to the IMO's upcoming code of conduct and internationally recognised fair treatment of seafarers.

Maybe the detainees have reason to wonder why 'freedom fries' are so called.

Cosco Busan Trial, Testing The Waters?

 accident reporting, containership, oil spill, Pollution  Comments Off on Cosco Busan Trial, Testing The Waters?
Aug 042008

Hear the pitter-patter of running feet? Could be ship managers running to their lawyer’s office, or ambulance-chasing lawyers running after ship managers, following the indictment of Hong Kong-based Fleet Management by the US Department of Justice. It’s a case that could have far-reaching implications on the industry, as BIMCO’s Watchkeeper has observed.

At this moment, at least outside the more voracious media, Fleet Management, like Captain John Cota who conned the containership Cosco Busan when it made contact with the San Francisco-Oakland bridge, is innocent unless the trial, which starts on 17th November, decides otherwise.

Says the DOJ: “Fleet Management, the company responsible for operating the Cosco Busan, was charged today with six felony counts for making false statements and obstruction of justice. According to the indictment, Fleet Management, acting through senior ship officers and shore-based supervisory officials, concealed and covered-up documents with an intent to impede, obstruct and influence the investigation of the spill. The falsified documents include a fictitious passage plan for Nov. 7, 2007, the day of the crash, as well as two prior voyages made after Fleet assumed management of the vessel in October 2007. Fleet’s safety procedures, required by US law, mandated berth-to-berth passage plans for each voyage. However, according to the indictment, Fleet created falsified plans after the crash and concealed and covered up the real ship records.”

At time of writing, the ship’s officers themselves have not be charged, although six of them remain in detention in Los Angeles, where they have been since the incident last November as ‘material witnesses’.

It would be improper to comment on this specific case until after the trial but the allegations seem to be a breach in the wall of that established legal principle by which the Master takes the fall, prehaps a recognition that, in the 21st century, the concept of the master being the sole authority holds less and less water.

In the days before radio, satellite communications and the internet there was no reasonable alternative to the principle of “Master only under God”. A master could not refer decisions upwards to management. Today, management is aboard ship electronically, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and the master has about the same authority as a truck driver whilst holding far greater responsibility.

The trial of John Cota and Fleet Management will deserve close coverage. Under the microscope, it seems, will be the relationship between pilot and master and the relatiuonship between master and company management. Buy your tickets early.

Kneejerk Legislation and Cosco Busan bandwagonning

 Uncategorized  Comments Off on Kneejerk Legislation and Cosco Busan bandwagonning
Apr 182008

Dennis Bryant at Holland & Knight clearly shares our exasperation at bandwagonning politicians climbing aboard the Cosco Busan. Commenting on a bill introduced by that global maritime expert Senator Feinstein, he says ‘The bill provides, among other things, that during a condition of enhanced danger (which includes dangerously low visibility, whatever that is) the USCG Sector Commander “shall assume direct authority over all vessels within the area . . . to ensure the safe navigation of dangerous waterways.”This is a truly misguided approach that will result in more problems than it expects to solve. ‘

What one wonders is whether that sector commander will be subject to criminal charges, face imprisonment and lose his career should an incident occur on his watch? Will he face the same legal risks as the pilot and ship officers aboard the Cosco Busan. Will the Coast Guard be fined millions of dollars for any pollution that occurs as a result? After all, if he, or she, is to assume direct authority over a vessel then he or she should be liable, as should the Coast Guard, so it’s little surprise that the Coast Guard itself really doesn’t want that particular hot potato.

In fact, there was little the VTS could have done at the time of the Cosco Busan incident. Its obsolete equipment had a time-lag between a ship making a manouvre and that manouvre being seen on the VTS screen, The equipment was obsolete because politicians had voted down funds for its upgrading.

Even modern equipment is not ‘real time’, there is always a lag which can be significant when dealing with fast-moving vessels.

VTS is not air traffic control. Every craft in the air is subject to air traffic control but the waters are filled with small vessels with little or no radar signature, without AIS, without radios, which can, and do interfere with safe navigation but will not be seen by the VTS.

Dangerous situations can arise without warning. At that moment, those on the bridge must remain focussed and undistracted, which they can’t be if they required to take orders from someone who isn’t on the bridge and doesn’t know the immediate situation. What will ensure will be a negotiation that will interfere with the bridge team’s situational awareness, particularly if the Coast Guard officer behaves with the typical abrasiveness of the breed.

One must, however, beware of the same sort of knee-jerk reaction that is influencing Feinstein’s bid for maritime glory. One must question whether direct VTS control is necessary or advisable in waters with mandatory pilotage, otherwise, why have a pilot anyway? Again, the issue of liability has to be settled.

There may well be an argument for greater VTS control, particularly in areas of high traffic density, and given the decreasing experience of many ship’s officers today, but ill thought-out legislation isn’t the way to go.