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Hurricane Ship Sinking

Discussion in 'YachtForums Yacht Club' started by JWY, Oct 7, 2015.

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  1. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    If they had a self launching (on rails) from the stern, modern covered lifeboat, and everyone had time to get into it, it would've changed everything. I think the launching of the lifeboats they had was safely impossible given they were beam to and rocking and rolling most likely.

    Nobody was there so it's just speculation as to whether the circumstances were any different if they did this instead of that.
  2. SMR-PILOT

    SMR-PILOT Member

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    I had just those same questions when I read the first reports.

    1. Apparently they made contact early morning informing of power failure, listing 15 degrees, but also reported that the situation was under control, then very shortly after that, conact was lost. If you are listing 15 degrees, have no power and are in the middle of a hurricane, THEN NOTHING IS UNDER CONTROL, YOU ARE IN DISTRESS. My opinion is that due to commercial pressure, the crew were trying do everything they could despite the adverse conditions, not to report how bad the situation was, and really thought they could get out of it. if they were not even able to send a GMDSS distress call, which all it takes is a push of a button, then the situation must have been really bad already.

    2. About the lifeboats, that is also an interesting question. I find it strange that they still had those open type lifeboats onboard, considering that for a company that size it would be very cheap to replace lifeboats with modern type, which are far safer. And this is something that I have noticed about US Maritime Safety standards, some companies get away with having VERY LOW standards. We bought some crew boats in the US with current CG certification last year and brought them to south America, and pretty much had to throw away all safety equipment that came with it because it was competely outdated and unnacceptable by most maritime authorities, but amazingly, accepted by USCG.

    3. You are right about ROROs. And it´s very common for the cargo to shift under heavy roll and cause a dangerous list. So in my opinion, this is also a possibility in el Faro incident. Maybe some of those vehicles were not properly lashed, shifted, caused the list, then the list could have had something to do with the power plant failure. Something like this happened to a car carrier some time ago on the west coast.
  3. Marmot

    Marmot Senior Member

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    It is not "very common" for a RoRo to suffer a dangerous list because of poorly lashed cargo. Look at the statistics.

    The west coast incident you mention sounds like the Cougar Ace and that had zero to do with cargo shifting. They were doing a ballast water exchange that went wrong and the list developed. Of the nearly 5000 vehicles on board, only 41 broke loose. They broke loose because of the list, they did not cause the list.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 9, 2015
  4. ranger58sb

    ranger58sb Senior member

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    A post on another forum said the Poles were on board simply to begin part of the refit planned for the ship's future PNW role. Suggesting it wasn't about problems or repairs. Don't know validity. Not enough known facts for speculation.

    -Chris
  5. Capt Ralph

    Capt Ralph Senior Member

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    Has any communication come to record yet as to when the captain knew he was in a hurricane?
    Or at least some thing more than a TS? Looking at the AIS path, the ship was cruising direct to the storm at 18-19kts and suddenly got in trouble. Was the captain thinking he was o k even if it was a hurricane?
    Would there dispatcher noticed the weather and re-directed their route?
  6. Marmot

    Marmot Senior Member

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    Neither of those incredible claims are facts, they are just more of the bizarre and completely pointless statements made by someone with no knowledge of the subject. There is enough speculation and garbage about this tragedy without more coming from such sources.

    No maintenance is performed on steam turbines while underway.
  7. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    One of the statements released from the company that owned the ship stated that it had technicians on board from the steam engines manufacturer and set sail with them on board. So something was being done to them while underway.
  8. K1W1

    K1W1 Senior Member

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    That is what I would say could have resulted from the ship listing and also being hurled up and down by huge seas further increasing the list, the original cause of which we do not and probably will never know.
  9. K1W1

    K1W1 Senior Member

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    If it has steam engines on it maybe the Polish guys were there making sure the low grade coal their countrymen and women mined was being burnt correctly.

    As Marmot holds an unlimited HP Steam Chief Engineers License I would say he has quite some knowledge of how these old girls work as he probably cut his teeth on similar ships.
  10. Marmot

    Marmot Senior Member

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    Please post a citation for that claim.
  11. SMR-PILOT

    SMR-PILOT Member

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    Code words in my post: "heavy roll", "possibility", "maybe not lashed properly".
    I didn´t mean that random shifting of cargo commonly creates list, what I mean is that in extreme rolling it is very common for cargo to come loose and WORSEN a stability situation, like you describe yourself in that car carrier incident.
  12. timvail

    timvail Senior Member

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    It has been my experience in my pastlife when tragety strikes that speculation begins. Human nature requires discipline in order to sift through the information obtained, and arrive with the facts, and throw the fiction away. We live in an age where we want answers yesterday. It would be nice, but it is not feasable or realalistic. We must also remember the parties involved, those that release information ahead of the completed investigation publicly. Lets wait and see rather than speculate what may have happened in this accident. It has also been my experience that data recorders always told a different story than any witnesses did, so hopefully one will be recovered in this case. My 2 cents worth.
  13. NYCAP123

    NYCAP123 Senior Member

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    I know very little about these systems, but I could speculate on 100 reasons they shut down. The real reason we may never know. As to why the Polish technicians were on board, I'm fairly confident this will come out in the investigation. I see no good that can come from speculation.

    As to why the ship had the older style lifeboats, I must assume that's due to her route through warmer / generally calmer waters. What company spends money they don't have to? I would guess that the enclosed lifeboats were probably on the refit list before she'd go to the PNW. With the list and rocking from those seas I'm not sure that any type lifeboat could have been successfully boarded and launched.

    As for her course, I can't see holding a ship in port due to a tropical storm, and one with a projected track to take it away from the U.S. coast. Once it grew into a hurricane there wasn't much to be done. According to most models it looked like the ship was trying to stay on her projected west (weaker) side, and was probably racing in hopes to slide by.

    Most professional mariners have faced very scary situations where we have doubts about our survivability. We don't declare a May Day that could put rescuers in jeopardy until we're pretty darned certain that we can't handle the situation on our own. In the conditions these faced that line probably got crossed very fast and it was too late to do anything.
  14. SMR-PILOT

    SMR-PILOT Member

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    there are so many questions on this incident:
    1. There`s no report of an EPIRB being Activated. Manually or automatic.
    2. There`s no reports of a GMDSS distress call.
    3. For a ship that size and the amount of cargo, debris field reports do not mention containers or much at all, apart from a few lifesaving appliances.
    4. Their last report did not mention distress, then all of a sudden they disappear.

    She must have gone down VERY FAST!
  15. K1W1

    K1W1 Senior Member

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    Do you happen to know what the fate of some of this ships sisterships was? I saw an ambulance chaser on the telly the other night who intimated that others from the same build group have been scrapped for good reason but he did not hint what that was.

    Structural Failure ( SF) has taken is toll of mariners and ships over the years. If as I read somewhere early on the Master said the vessel had taken on water through a hatch cover the key to the whole disaster may be linked to this.
  16. NYCAP123

    NYCAP123 Senior Member

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    Sounds like an ambulance chaser. I can only find info on one sistership, the El Yunque, who's heading for Jacksonville to be examined for clues:

    "JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -
    The National Transportation Safety Board is conducting its second full day of investigation into the wreck of the El Faro, the cargo ship that disappeared in the Atlantic Ocean Last Thursday after reporting mechanical issues.

    The NTSB hopes to recover the ship from the ocean but said that part of its investigation into its disappearance will be looking at its sister ship, the El Yunque.
    The El Yunque returned to port in Blount Island Thursday where the NTSB will begin inspecting it.
    “Yes, the sister ship of El Faro is called El Yunque. A key part of our investigation is to look at this ship, look at the exact operations, look at the route. Also look at all the mechanics and how the ship was built. It's very useful to our investigation to use the sister ship that's almost identical to El Faro,” NTSB Vice Chairman Bella Dinh-Zarr said.
    Maritime Lawyer Rod Sullivan said the two ships aren't identical but have a lot in common, which could be helpful to the NTSB and may also hold the key to answers that family members and the NTSB are looking for.
    "You want to see whether it has any hairline cracks or wells, whether it has any cracks in the shell plating. Are there any places where the hull has been overstressed?" Sullivan said.
    He said finding these things on the El Yunque, which was built to the exact same design and in the same shipyard, may help the NTSB understand what kind of condition the El Faro was in when it set sail Last Tuesday.
    “There are places on a ship which are stress points. You want to go to those stress points, and you want to closely test them. There are ultrasound tests you can do. There are dye penetrant tests you can do. There are a lot of ways you can test if the steel is overly stressed," Sullivan said.
    Sullivan, a former Maritime Marine turned Maritime lawyer, said that dye penetrant is sprayed on the metal, which is then absorbed. He said after putting a developer on the metal, if there are any cracks, they'll show up as a line. He said not only is it important to find answers about the El Faro, but to ensure the safety of crew members on the El Yunque.
    "This is a ship that's about 40 years old, has been exposed to a lot of the same stresses as the El Faro, and if the El Faro broke up as a result of heavy weather, the El Yunque would be at the same risk of the same thing happening in heavy weather," Sullivan said.
    News4Jax did get hold of reports of incidents from both the El Faro and the El Yunque, all of which happened in 2011.
    In April 2011, the El Faro temporarily lost power when the generator breaker tripped and main propulsion was lost. Engineers later found that it was caused by a severed wire.
    In August 2011, the El Faro lost forward motion because of a brief grounding at Baltimore harbor though no damage was found.
    Later that same month, while moored at Baltimore Harbor, Hurricane Irene created severe conditions and a possible tornado caused the mooring lines to snap, causing the ship to drift away from the pier where is struck a cement block causing minor damage.
    Finally, in January 2011, the sister ship, the El Yunque, lost water to its boiler, triggering a shutdown of the boiler fires, causing the ship to lose propulsion for three hours.
    The El Faro was built in 1975, and after two decades of hauling cargo in the Northwest, it was refitted in 2006 and moved to Jacksonville.
    The NTSB plans on being in Jacksonville for another week or so, finishing up its onsite investigation, then it will start putting those results to paper.
  17. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    I think the "rest of the story" will be very revealing, just have no idea what. However, in most of these cases there is more than one factor and it's those factors coming together that leads to the tragedy. Here we know about hurricane and engine failure, but there's likely more and it may be structural or it may be weight shift. At this point we don't even know why the boat ended up exactly where it was at it's last contact.

    I do think we'll know far more once the investigation is completed and then the pieces will start to fit.

    The latest we do know is that three former crew members have now spoken as to the condition of the El Faro. They say it had leaks, holes and other structural issues. http://www.cnn.com/2015/10/08/us/el-faro-missing-ship/
  18. bobhorn

    bobhorn Member

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    I guess these are too new to be Liberty ships, but I think they had a habit of breaking in half in rough seas.
  19. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    One statement I've read and seen similar from others is that the captain had a plan that would have gotten him ahead of or around the storm had everything gone right. I suspect we may find lots of aspects of this dependent on "everything going right." That may include this ship sailing, it's loading, and it's planned trip. I'm not assigning blame to the captain or others at this point, just commenting that any trip that is dependent on everything going right is ill advised. Murphy's law lives. Planning isn't the art of having a plan for everything going right. It's being prepared for all those things that can go wrong. It behooves all of us, regardless of our roles in the boating world, to always keep that in mind.

    I'm sure it's easier for me in the recreational world to not follow a calendar or plans since I don't have a job dependent on it and I don't have any financial pressure in doing so. Still, we do, as does everyone here, face decisions regularly. We were in Myrtle Beach last week, then went to Charlotte, and needed to return to Myrtle Beach. We delayed that return until the roads we'd be traveling were safe and we did consult with the state highway patrol prior to returning to make sure the roads were safe and we wouldn't be in the way of any efforts. People died from trying to drive down flooded roads. We then delayed leaving Myrtle Beach until we felt sea conditions were more favorable. Likewise, we proceeded one day behind a captain we respected who was on a similar route home and used information from him.

    Safety is number one, number two and number three. We must all remember to keep it that way. This isn't aimed at the incident under discussion but just at the general comment of "had everything gone right."
  20. Chasm

    Chasm Senior Member

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    Given the ships age the open life boats were grandfathered in by law.
    As far as total rust bucket go the ship was last inspected by ABS in February and USCG in March 2015. Those reports should surface during the investigation, then we'll have a better idea about the perceived state of the ship.

    NTSB investigation link
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