Above Board

Maritime news from the seven seas


The IMO’s Marine Protection and Environment Committee (MEPC) recently approved a draft Polar Code that applies to ships plying arctic and Antarctic waters. The Code includes aspects such as design, construction, search-and-rescue and environmental considerations. MEPC also considered draft amendments to MARPOL. The new regulations could come into force January 1, 2017 if both are adopted at the next MEPC meeting in the spring of 2015.

Deadly Disasters and Other Incidents

A lifeboat accident offshore Malaysia left two crew members dead after they fell approximately 150 feet into the water from the Ensco-104 jack-up rig.

At Port Klang in Malaysia, the M/V San Felipe and the M/V Al Riffa containership vessels each suffered a fire in their forward container stacks after they collided.

The tug Karen Jean, which had been towing a 110-foot barge, sank during eight-foot seas off Rhode Island, with four crew going over the side. They made it into their lifeboat and were rescued by a passing fishing vessel.

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In River Rouge, near Detroit, Michigan, the bulk carrier Herbert C. Jackson sustained considerable damage to her bow after she was struck by the drawbridge of the Jefferson Avenue Bridge. The NTSB found that the bridge’s tender was legally intoxicated at the time of the incident. The collision resulted in an estimated $50 million in damage to the historic bridge.

The bulker Tian Xiang 69 suffered a crankcase explosion in the waters near Weihai, in the eastern Shandong province in the People’s Republic of China, resulting in five injured crew members being evacuated by helicopter.

A cruise ship maintenance job went horribly wrong in Colon, Panama, when the rescue boat on which two crew members were working fell into the water after its cables parted while it was being raised back aboard the Coral Princess. One crewmember died.

In Warrenpoint Harbor, Ireland, a safety barrier had to be placed around the M/V Cimbris after its cargo of animal feed caught fire.

Piracy Pulse

All crew aboard a container vessel were safe after pirates attempted to board the vessel while underway near the Bayelsa Coast in Nigeria. As the small group of raiders cut a section of razor wire in order to get their ladder hooked up, the master sped up and used evasive maneuvers to avoid capture.

In Indonesia, near Bintan Island, a bulk carrier was boarded by five thieves brandishing knives who were able to steal ship’s property despite the alarm being raised.

Three shore watchmen were tied up and threatened with knives by three of 12 robbers who took control of an anchored bulk carrier in Chittagong Anchorage, Bangladesh. The pirates subsequently broke into the forecastle store and stole some property before jumping overboard, however a Coast Guard patrol boat was able to capture one of the two pirate boats.

Shipwrecks of Old

The remains of a German U-boat and an American freighter that fought during the Battle of the Atlantic have been found by NOAA and colleague organizations. The U-576 sank the Bluefields near Cape Hatteras in July 1942 as a convoy of merchant ships were making their way to Key West, Florida.

The wreck of what could be the Scottish brig Aysrshire, a 19th century vessel that was carrying Irish and English immigrants, has been found on a New Jersey beach where the construction of a post-Sandy coastal steel wall is underway. The find could also be significant because of the fact that a line-throwing, or Lyle gun, along with a metal-covered life boat was used to save nearly 200 passengers – apparently the first-ever use of these rescue apparatus.

Odds and Ends

For a hefty price tag of $200 million US, the world’s first CNG carrier is expected to be delivered in the spring of 2016. The 110-meter vessel’s design includes a dual-fuel main engine that will use natural gas for power. The ship, being built by Jiangsu Hantong Ship Heavy Industry for CIMC ENRIC SJZ GAS, will transport natural gas in Indonesia.

The master of the Windcat 9, a wind farm workboat, has been fined the equivalent of approximately US$15,000 for a 2012 high-speed accident in which he failed to keep a proper lookout or correctly set his electronic navigation equipment. Fifteen people were aboard at the time the passenger transport vessel struck a large floating military target but no one was injured.

Kathy A. Smith enjoys writing for US and international fishing and maritime trade journals. She can be reached at maritimewriter@gmail.com.


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