THE COSTA ALLEGRE ACCIDENT
The cruise ship Costa Allegra suffered
from an engine room fire on 27th February in the Indian Ocean, not far away
from one of the smaller islands in the Seychelles. There were about 600
passengers and 400 crew on board.
The ship was once a container vessel. It is one of the oldest in the Costa
fleet and is likely to be sold for scrap since Costa do not intend to
continue to operate it. In fact it was already up for sale. Probably because
of the Costa Concordia it became an instant news item and its progress
towards the nearest island of Desroches, being towed by a French fishing
boat was followed live. But apparently Desroches is very small and the air
strip can only accommodate planes with the ability to carry 20 people. It
obviously did not take anyone too long to calculate that it would take 50
flights to get people back to Mahe, and the resources on the island would be
pushed to the limit, so the tow was rerouted to Mahe.
The passengers were met by reporters and we all quickly found out how
inadequate the arrangements, are on yet another ship, for dealing with loss
of power. In fact when I think about it, although I schooled my guys
offshore how to start the emergency generator, I was not quite sure what it
operated. It’s got to be the lights one thinks, but what else? Even as a
risk assessor on oil rigs I found that not may people knew what the
emergency generator operated, and in some cases we had to make
recommendations for additional services to be connected.
This is all leading up to the fact that the vacuum toilet systems do not
seem to be seen as essential equipment on passenger ships, and as a result
after a main power failure, the underdeck areas become smelly quite quickly.
I won’t go on, in case you are having your tea, but the Costa Allegra
passengers said they were happier sleeping on deck.
THE KOOSHA 1
Back in late 2011 the diving ship Koosha
1 sank offshore Iran with several divers in sat. The ship had been working
in the South Pars gas field and was on its way back to port. The latest
report said that of the 73 people on board 60 were rescued. What! I hear you
say, 73 people on that. How did they manage? I can only say that then a
Saudi company bought a couple of old anchor-handlers in 1994 they ripped out
the cement tanks and put 60 bunks in the space.
The Russian managed website Maritime
Bulletin often contains interesting information, since Russian shipmasters
provide it with reports.
Elsewhere we have included a short update about the Koosha I which was
reported on this site.
Recently a shipmaster sent in some information about conditions outside the
port of Mombasa. There is effectively no anchorage, according to him, and as
a result the twenty-five or so ships waiting to enter the port have to drift
about outside waiting for something nice to happen to them.
Unfortunately quite the opposite appears to be likely. The ships jockey for
position, attempting to remain in the middle of the group because the
alternative is to be isolated on the outside, and therefore be prey to
pirates, who after all live just up the road.
This activity is very similar to the
tactics used by the stronger members of herds of Zebra. The weaker animals
find themselves on the outside of the herd, and are therefore easy prey for
the prowling lions.
Only a few days after I had read this report the BBC reported that a ship
had dropped its anchor in a restricted are and had severed the main
telephone cable connecting most of East Africa with the outside world.
I searched in vain for the ship’s name and I suppose if I had taken out a
subscription to Lloyd’s List I would have found out. But it is claimed by a
site called “Zeta Talk”, that really the cause was some sort of geological
WAITING FOR THE RESULTS OF
Back in February the
Nautical Institute took a stand on commenting on marine accidents, and this
prompted a letter from me, which was published in the March edition. Here it
I read, with some distress, the Nautical Institute press release about
“speculation’ in relation to marine accidents, and the Chief Executive’s
column headed “The Need for Investigation not Comments”.
Surely it is time the Nautical Institute caught up with the rest of the
world, and acknowledged that much has changed since it was instituted 40
years ago. While it would appear to be righteous to refuse to make comments
on marine accidents, until formal investigation have been completed, the
reality is that such a stance will mostly result in no comments being made
After all, considering the Costa Concordia, surely we all privately have a
view. There are eye-witness accounts in the media, including interviews on
the BBC with survivors. For instance, one of those interviewed in The
Report, a Radio 4 programme was a 19 year old female dancer, who had been
put in charge of a liferaft embarkation station, apparently without any real
training. There is more, as we all know, and regardless of any honourable
intent to protect those accused of a maritime crime, comment about aspects
of incidents such as the above could still be made.
But if the Nautical Institute is going to wait for investigations to be
completed, could they comment on the Costa Europa accident at Sharm-el-Sheikh
in 2010, in which three seafarers died. The answer would be no, because the
only entity to carry out an investigation was Costa itself, who submitted
their report to the Italian authorities. No-one else has seen it. Could they
comment on the loss of the Danny FII which sank in December 2009 in the
eastern Mediterranean with the loss of more than 40 lives including the
master, or on the loss of the Demas Victory in July 2009, off the coast of
Doha with thirty fatalities. I could go on. In fact, according to the IMO,
investigations should be carried out by the country in which the ship is
registered, unless it is carried out by the flag state in which the ship was
situated at the time of the accident.
Nautilus, an organization who I would have though would have had a bit of
clout, have failed utterly to encourage Panama, the flag of the Danny FII,
to carry out an investigation into the loss. And as for the Demas Victory
which sank only ten miles offshore in adverse weather, having been refused
entry into the port of Doha, when a local reporter questioned the marine
authority there, the only response was a shrug of the shoulders, and a view
that these things happen. As for the flag state, St Vincent and the
Grenadines, they do not have a government marine department even though
large numbers of ships registered in the country. I have written several
letters to the registry, incidentally in Geneva, but have had no response.
There are now many registries who would not have the ability to carry out an
investigation, nor I suspect any enthusiasm for doing do. The IMO should be
doing something to encourage them to act responsibly or else should find
some means of preventing them from existing as registries. And the Nautical
Institute should be doing something to support this view.
So it is unrealistic for the Nautical Institute, one of whose objectives is,
I think, to support the improvement of health and safety at sea, to hide
behind the results of formal investigations which may or may not take place,
before expressing a view. They should be prepared, on our behalf to take on
board available information, and to make comment using expertise within the
organization. It would then be possible for them to put before the
international media those things that we all believe should be changed, such
as the enthusiasm of many states for putting shipmasters in prison for
errors of judgment. If they don’t feel they can do this then they should
send some-one on a media course.
OIL RIG NEWS
People who have had a look at the
February newsletter have enjoyed the addition of photographs and really this
is just an excuse to include here a photograph of one of the new Rowan rigs,
two of which have for a time been jacked up at the quayside in Dundee.
The one in the picture (You need to have the emailed pdf version to see the
pictures) is the Rowan Viking taken a little more than a year ago. But to
bring us up to date, the last of the trio has just left Dundee being towed
by the UT 722 Highland Valour, and seems to have arrived at the Bentley
Field where it is going to be engaged in an extended well test.
A DEAD ZONE
I was surprised to find that in the
aftermath of the Macondo blowout, during which BP is compensating many
thousands of business to the tune of seven billion dollars or so, the Gulf
of Mexico already had serious pollution problems.
Apparently there are dead zones in many bodies of water, including the
Baltic, the Black Sea and Chesapeake Bay, and they are all due to a lack of
oxygen in the water.
The dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico extends to 6000 to 7000 square miles.
The problem is caused by all the stuff flowing down the Mississippi.
The Mississippi flows through many major farming states in America. It’s a
big river. During its passage across the states it is polluted by
fertilizers animal waste and sewage. All of which cause a change to the
marine environment and makes it impossible for fish and crustaceans to live
in the water.
American academics were already concerned about the gulf before Macondo. So
what now? I’m not sure that oil depletes oxygen in water.
Without wanting to be solely involved
reporting disasters one can’t help it in this business. Lots of bad stuff
happens, and to be honest not enough people do much about it. Apparently the
KS Endeavour was drilling off Nigeria when it caught fire. An uncontrolled
well control problem again. But a ship was also lost. The Mako was
apparently tied up at the rig, providing extra storage. It was also burnt
out. Two people unfortunately lost their lives.
iNFORMATION ABOUT THIS NEWLETTER AND SHIPS AND OIL LTD
This newsletter expresses the views of the author Victor Gibson about marine
events which are considered to be worthy of interest sources of information
The Tugs, Towing and Offshore Newsletter.
The Nautilus Telegraph
The Nautical institute Magazine Seaways
The BBC Home Page
The website contains comprehensive information about many offshore vessels
and approaching 10,000 images. Since the middle of February 2012 the following
company information has been updated:
Picture of the Day
included photographs of the following:
Mermaid Endurer, North Rankin B, Dockwise Swan, Transocean Honor, Apache II,
Nor Star, Victoria Kent, Invincible Tide, North Sea Giant, Ocean West (And
thanks to those who sent me information about its history).
SHIPS AND OIL OFFERS THE FOLLOWING PUBLICATION FOR SALE ON ITS WEBSITE:
THE HISTORY OF THE SUPPLY SHIP £37.50 inc P&P anywhere
SUPPLY SHIP OPERATIONS £27.50 inc P&P anywhere
RIGMOVES £5.75 inc P&P anywhere
SEE THE WEBSITE FOR MORE INFORMATION.
Buy all three books for the bargain price of £52.50
Vic Gibson. February 2012.
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