MAIB: Boxer Missed Opportunity “Regrettable”

 boxship, containership  Comments Off on MAIB: Boxer Missed Opportunity “Regrettable”
Aug 052009

MSC Napoli aft at Harland & Wolff

Britain’s Maritime Accident Investigation Branch has described as ‘regrettable’ the reluctance of the container industry to tackle what it believes is a ‘widespread fallacy’ that container vessels do not need to reduce speed for heavy weather. The comment is part of the MAIB annual report for 2008 which describes correcting the fallacy as ‘critical’ following the report on the structural failure and subsequent beaching in heavy weather of MSC Napoli in Branscombe Beach on 18 January 2007.

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Now available: MSC Napoli – The Bendy Boxer

 Accident, podcast, Podcasts  Comments Off on Now available: MSC Napoli – The Bendy Boxer
Aug 012009

With MSC Napoli no longer on the beach we have re-introduced The Case of the Bendy Boxer Part 1 into the premium library. Part 2 should be available by midday, 1 August.

Transcript and podcast are available to Premium subscribers here: Continue reading »

May 022009

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Sailor lost as tug capsizes
The National – Abu Dhabi,United Arab Emirates
All five crew on the tug were thrown into the water as it quickly overturned with the force of the collision. The four survivors, a Bahrani and three .

Crewman on vessel killed in fuel-leaked fire
Thanh Nien Daily – Ho Chi Minh City,Vietnam
A Ho Chi Minh City vessel caught fire off the central province of Quang Ngai on Wednesday after a fuel pipe broke, killing a crewmember.

Man drowns after falling into waters at Port Khaled

According to police, the victim was on a cargo vessel at the port when he then fell off the boat and drowned. An investigation has been launched as to how he fell over the vessel.

Main gearbox failure eyed in North Sea Super Puma crash
Aviation International News – Midland Park,NJ,USA
An eyewitness, working on a supply vessel approximately two nautical miles from the accident site, heard the helicopter and saw it descend rapidly before it

Biden manages to anger everyone over bad flu advice
Christian Science Monitor – Boston,MA,USA
The Japanese government severely restricted maritime travel to and from the home islands when the pandemic struck.

Gigantic risks
Lloyd’s List – London,UK
The loss of the MSC Napoli and its cargo, a relative minnow compared to the new generation of boxships, is now the second most costly insurance incident .

Coast Guard Releases Tour Boat Death Report
KHON2 – Honolulu,HI,USA
“When you have a vessel that’s been cleared numerous times to operate despite having numerous problems with it, you’re talking about gross neglect,” said

Efforts on to trace sailor: VS
Kerala Online – Kerala,India
He boarded the vessel on April 10 as it set sail with its cargo for Singapore. Capt. Vinay Singh, director of the shipping company, wrote to Mr. James that

Leader of infamous ship hijacking released yesterday from Italian
WorldNetDaily – Washington,DC,USA
Cossiga singles out Palestinian groups as responsible for a 1980 explosion at an Italian train station that killed 85 people and wounded 200 more.

Coast Guard verifies position of fishing vessel Lady Mary | Coast
By cgnews
The Coast Guard Marine Board of Investigation, the group in charge of looking into the facts and circumstances surrounding the sinking of the vessel, solicited the help of the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Willow, a 225-foot buoy


Ship Captain: Arming Crews Will Not Stop Piracy – Detroit Local
Clancey noted that many governments will not let a ship with armed crew dock in their ports. And the notion of crew members, armed and out to sea for weeks or months, could be a recipe for deadly and costly accidents. “There have been incidents where innocent bystanders have been killed,” Clancey said. “There is exposure.”

Pirate attack foiled by navy
Straits Times – Singapore
On April 24, Nato decided to extend its anti-piracy work off the coast of Somalia. Four vessels from Nato’s Standing Naval Maritime Group One have been

Did MSC Passengers Fight Off Melody’s Pirates?
Cruise Critic – Pennington,NJ,USA
writes, “The only casualty was American John Wright, cut by glass splinters as a MSC Cruises had taken advice from the Maritime Security Center.

Napoli – Time To Box Clever

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Apr 232008

Some container industry executives might have been asking “Where’s the love?” when the UK’s Maritime Accident Investigation Branch report on the structural failure of the MSC Napoli landed on their desks this week, most, however would have had an inkling that a rap on the knuckles was in sight.

MSC Napoli was beached in Branscombe Bay, Dorset, by its master after a crack appeared in its hull by way of the engine room during a storm. Analysis showed a weakness in that part of the hull that went undetected because measurements of resistance to buckling were only taken in an area amidships of four tenths of her length overall, which did not include the engine room and which was the only area required to be checked by the classification society rules.

It was not a problem of fatigue or corrosion, but inherent in the design. Typically, a ship structure will maintain much the same configuration along its length, as frames diminish in size towards the bow and stern they effectively match the reduced global bending loads along the length of the ship away from the midships area. In the MSC Napoli, however, the structure was changed from longitudinal to transverse a little fore of the engine room, where stresses were almost as great as at amidships, but the structure itself was weak under the sort of compressive loading the vessel experienced.

A later survey of 1,500 similar vessels, with input from classification societies, discovered another 12 ships with similar problems that needed immediate attention and another 10 which required further investigation. Data on another eight ships had yet to be provided by the classification society concerned.

MAIB comments: “the commercial advantages of containerisation and intermodalism such as speed and quick turnarounds appear to have become the focus of the industry at the expense of the safe operation of its vessels. The industry is very schedule driven, and operators inevitably have an eye on the timetable when making key decisions.”

The MSC Napoli report identifies:”…the decisions to: sail without an operational governor; sail in excess of the maximum permissible seagoing bending moments in order to allow greater flexibility for
the time of departure; to operate at near maximum bending moments when underway; and to keep the ship’s speed as fast as possible when pounding into heavy seas, were symptomatic of the industry’s ethos to carry as much as possible as quickly as possible. However, although these decisions were undoubtedly made in the belief that the ship was operating within acceptable limits, this investigation has shown that unknown variables such as whipping effect and container weights are able to erode or
eliminate the safety margins in place.”

Containerships, with long, relatively narrow designs, are particularly subject to the effects of bending moments in rough seas and the ‘whipping effect’, which can typically increase wave bending
moments on container ships from between 10 per cent and 50 per cent. Any increase in the wave
bending moment above the normal design level would inevitably erode the margin between loading and hull strength. However, MAIB points out : “it is apparent that whipping effect is currently very difficult to reliably calculate or model. Classification societies are therefore unable to predict its magnitude or effect on a ship’s structure, with any confidence, and as a consequence they are not generally calculated during the structural design process.”

Basically, safety margins may be far smaller than accounted for. Indeed, the increase in the size of containerships has outpaced the regulatory environment. Says MAIB: “At the time of build, no buckling checks were required by the applicable rules, and none were made. However, as the current
requirements specified in UR S11 leaves buckling checks outside the 0.4L amidships region to the discretion of individual classification societies, there is a possibility that even if MSC Napoli had been built after 1992, the lack of buckling strength in way of her engine room would still not have been identified. Importantly, it is highly probable that there are a number of other container ships of a similar design to MSC Napoli which are also vulnerable to localised buckling in severe conditions. It is essential that such designs are quickly identified and remedial action is taken where necessary”

Buckling strength, says MAIB must be measured globally, along the length of the ship, not just the .4 of a ships length amidships. This was less important for yesterday’s shorter vessels: It’s easy to break a full-length matchstick, but harder to snap shorter lengths, for instance. A single common method for establishing buckling strength is vital for today’s containerships.

How soon is that likely to happen? Lloyd’s List quotes IACS principal technical officer Colin Wright “We always respond to MAIB recommendations and they have sent out a message that says please get on with it. It is already in hand, though when it will be finished is another matter,” he said. Not, prehaps, the most exciting of responses.

“No ship is unbreakable. Classification societies apply structural strength limitations which are contingent on the application of good seamanship and prudent operational practice. It has been apparent during the course of this investigation that these caveats are not widely recognised by many in the container ship industry. Unlike other large vessels such as bulk carriers, which can frequently disregard the effect of the sea, due to their lines and limited engine power, container ships cannot. It is essential that companies recognise this difference and put in place controls and procedures to ensure that container ships operate within safe limits at all times,” says the MAIB report.

There were, however, other safety issues raised in the report that were related to container operations. Calculations showed a great discrepancy between declared container weights and their actual weights, which might not have directly led to the hull failure but would have contributed to the reduction of the safety margin between the total bending moment experienced and the strength of the hull. Without accurately weighing containers, the stresses on the hull cannot be accurately predicted.

Perhaps surprisingly, there is no dedicated trade organisation for the containershipping industry to provide guidance on best practices. In its report on the collapse of containers on the Annabella, MAIB commented “Working practices relating to the planning, loading, transportation and discharge of containers are largely unregulated and have been understandably focussed on the need to maximise efficiency and speed of operation. While key industry players will attest that safety is of paramount
concern, evidence obtained during this and other MAIB investigations into container shipping accidents suggests that in reality, the safety of ships, crews and the environment is being compromised by the overriding desire to maintain established schedules or optimise port turn round times.”

In response, the International Chamber of Shipping has convened a group of container ship industry experts and, with the assistance of the World Shipping Council, has started work to develop and publish a code of best practice for the industry. The code is expected to be completed by the end of 2008, after which it will be presented to IMO for adoption.

The Maritime And Coastguard Agency has added inspections of container weight and ship longitudinal strength checks on containerships to its paper to the Paris MOU Port State Control Subcommittee on the subject of operational checks and the human factor in loading of ships and whether adequate checks were being carried out prior to sailing. The UK will lead a task force to consider these checks for a concentrated inspection campaign planned for 2010, taking into account the findings of the MSC Napoli report.

The message from MAIB to the industry is clear: Get your act together, or, at least, learn to box clever.

Praiseworthy MSC Napoli Crew Knew The Drill

 grounding, lifeboat, maritime accidents  Comments Off on Praiseworthy MSC Napoli Crew Knew The Drill
Apr 222008

We’ll be covering the MAIB’s 56 page and two annexe MSC Napoli report in more depth anon but a footnote got our immediate attention:

“It was evident during the investigation that the master had placed a great deal of emphasis on the importance of safety drills and the maintenance of lifesaving equipment, and that the preparation and lowering of lifeboats had been well-practiced in accordance with company policy.”

No-one was hurt during the evacuation from the ship, and that may be owed to the seriousness with which the master took safety procedures and drills.

The abandon ship did not go without a hitch, “the crewman sitting nearest the forward painter release could not pull the release pin sufficiently far to allow the painter to disengage. He was squeezed between two other crew and his movement was restricted by his immersion suit. The painter was eventually cut by the chief engineer, who had a knife, and was able to reach the painter via the lifeboat’s forward hatch.”

Conditions in the lifeboat were far from easy: “The motion of the lifeboat was violent and the atmosphere in the lifeboat was very uncomfortable; all of the crew suffered from sea sickness. Although the lifeboat was certified to accommodate up to 32 persons, the 26 crew wearing immersion suits and lifejackets were very cramped. They were very warm and several felt faint and de-hydrated. The situation became more tolerable after the crew cut off the gloves from their immersion suits with the chief engineer’s knife. This allowed them to use their hands more effectively, and they were able to drink from plastic drinking water bottles
they had brought with them.”

Says the MAIB report: “The abandonment of a vessel in any conditions is problematic. Therefore, the abandonment and successful recovery of the 26 crew from MSC Napoli, in the severe conditions experienced, is praiseworthy. By the time the master arrived at the lifeboat embarkation position, the crew were on board and wearing immersion suits and lifejackets, the engine was running, extra water had been stowed on board, and VHF radios, SARTs and the EPIRB were ready for use. Despite the vessel rolling heavily, the enclosed lifeboat was lowered without incident and then manoeuvred clear of the stricken vessel. Although there were a number of practical issues that should be noted, this successful abandonment clearly demonstrates the importance and value of regular maintenance and drills.”

Sadly, drills are often carried out for the sake of filling in bits of paper, and sometimes not at all, but drills are a pretty good insurance policy.