Pacific Maritime Magazine - Marine Business for the Operations Sector

Above Board

Maritime news from the seven seas


December 1, 2015

The University of Alaska Anchorage was the setting for the launch of the new arctic Domain Awareness Center (ADAC). Set up by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Science and Technology Directorate, the organization is expected to help both the DHS and the US Coast Guard increase their ability to prepare, respond and manage emergencies in the region. ADAC will also offer various scholarships and opportunities for students to research navigation simulation and arctic modeling, etc., along with addressing climate change issues as part of President Obama’s directive.

Deadly Disasters and Other Incidents

The crew of the M/V Lakshan, a small Sri-Lankan fishing vessel that had been adrift without power due to a crankcase explosion, were rescued by a passing US navy transport dock ship. The USS Anchorage was hailed by the six crewmen as they wildly flung clothing in the air in attempt to be seen. Lakshan had been without power for at least 24 hours before the rescue took place.

A routine job of bringing an empty barge alongside a pier in the Kill Van Kull channel in New York-New Jersey’s Harbor turned deadly for one man who fell 10 feet off a ladder. Despite being thrown a life ring by another employee, the man slipped beneath the waves.

In the Bahamas, a man from Brazil apparently intentionally jumped overboard from the Royal Caribbean vessel Oasis of the Seas and could not be found after two boats were launched and helicopters and airplane crews were dispatched to search for him.

In Hawaii, about 100 miles off Oahu, a crewman aboard the BW Helios LPG tanker had to be medevaced by the US Coast Guard after suffering an eye injury.

A lone rubber tire that had probably been used as a fender on board an unknown vessel was identified as the likely culprit responsible for injuring 124 of 163 passengers and crew aboard the high-speed ferry Horta. The vessel took on water after the forceful hit while enroute from Macau to Hong Kong.

A whale-watching tour boat with 27 people aboard, capsized due to a rogue wave off Tofino on BC’s Vancouver Island. Five people died and one is still missing at press time. All were on the port side of the top open observation deck when the accident happened. Preliminary findings by the Canadian Transportation Safety Board reveal that the position of the tourists raised the vessel’s center of gravity as the wave hit the Leviathan II on the starboard side, adding another unfortunate link to the deadly chain of events.

Piracy Pulse

A pack of eight knife-wielding robbers took a duty oiler hostage after boarding a containership underway near Pulau Takong Kecil, Indonesia. The bandits put a cloth bag over the crewman’s head and also tied his hands and feet in an attempt to stop him from alerting others. However, the duty watch keeper had seen them from the start, raised the alarm and the would-be thieves escaped with nothing.

Again in Indonesia, ship’s stores were taken after a small group of robbers carrying long knives were able to use a rope ladder to board a bulk carrier in transit. In this case, the ship’s duty oiler was able to get word to officers on the bridge without harm.

Submachine guns were the weapons of choice for a group of pirates who fired on some equipment on board a refrigerated cargo ship that was underway near Bayelsa Coast, Nigeria. They also stole some cash and then brazenly took four crew members with them when they left the ship.

Odds and Ends

Recently an agreement was signed for the first-ever engine conversion to dual-fuel using LNG on a containership. MAN Diesel & Turbo signed with German shipping company, Wessels Reederei to embark on upgrading its 1,000-TEU Wes Amelie’s main engine. The work is scheduled to begin in the last quarter of 2016.

In August last year, an allision between a tug towing a crane barge and the Florida Avenue Bridge in New Orleans, resulted in the death of the tug’s captain when the crane boom fell on the Cory Michael’s upper wheelhouse. The National Transportation Safety Board found that the captain did not correctly estimate the air draft of the tow or ensure the bridge was raised to the appropriate height for the transit. In addition, the NTSB also found the bridge operator at fault. Furthermore, it was found that the bridge’s lift span hadn’t been raised high enough due to damage it had sustained from Hurricane Katrina, unbeknownst to the USCG’s Bridge Administration. And although a safety management program was in place for the crew of the tug, it hadn’t been adequately followed since the crane boom was not properly secured in preparation for the job.

This fine may be substantial but it can’t retract the environmental impact that occurred in the waters off Texas last December when a Greek oil tanker illegally discharged oily waste without using a separator or the vessel’s incinerator. The chief engineer of the M/V Sestrea arbitrarily decided to dump the junk straight into the ocean and falsify the oil record book to boot. As a result, Chandris (Hellas) Inc. that operates the ship, was fined $1 million ($200,000 of it goes to the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation) and given three years of probation for its offense.

Kathy Smith writes for global maritime trade journals and provides marketing copy to maritime businesses worldwide. She can be reached at


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