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Yacht Serena III sinks off Ft. Lauderdale

Discussion in 'General Yachting Discussion' started by Ken Bracewell, Jan 25, 2016.

  1. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    We're talking a 120' yacht. Not a 400' commercial ship. Not a 50' Silverton. As an owner of a classed 130' recreational boat, but fiberglass instead of steel, we do have we have 13 automatic bilge pumps, float switches and alarms. Minimum of two in every bulkhead section. Then we have two emergency pumps (plus one backup) with lines to each compartment. And then we have an emergency engine driven pump. Now, I can't tell you what of that was required by class or what of that was just builder and design. I can also say that the stabilizers are installed in such a way as damage to one would not allow water into the boat.

    Also the moment an alarm went off we would look at the area on camera while others were going to the area.

    In answers to other questions brought up, we have multiple bulkheads some with waterproof doors and some solid. We have a total of three waterproof doors on the lower deck.

    Now, I can't tell you stabilizers or grounding had anything to do with this sinking. That may just be misspeak from the First Officer. I don't know what happened. I do know though that, in my opinion, there is a weakness in the system that allowed the boat to get in the situation it did without discovery of a problem. Your first knowledge of a problem should not be that the boat is listing very greatly.

    I can't speak to commercial steel ships. Perhaps their normal is much less. Perhaps the fact this boat was built by a commercial builder is reflected in it's design.

    Back to the most basic question, forgetting class, forgetting anything other than common sense and that is a 120' steel yacht should have a warning system adequate to notify the crew of water entering the boat before it reaches the stage at which this crew was apparently first aware, based on the words from their First Officer.

    The boat sank for two reasons. First, water was entering, for a reason we don't yet know with any certainty. Second, they were unable to detect, counteract, or stop the water entry.

    I would say that almost all sinkings have multiple causes, among three types. Design, accident or event, preventive or corrective measures.
  2. K1W1

    K1W1 Senior Member

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    I have worked on steel hulled yachts from 50 to 320 ft - None had automatic bilge pumps in them but all had bilge level switches.
  3. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    The automatic pumps on our boat would never offset a 4 inch hole. But the switches and alarms would notify crew to take other steps. When I mention the automatic pumps, alarms and switches, it's really the alarms and switches that I'm focusing on in this situation. On a boat that was manned at the time of sinking, their failure to apparently have alarms go off, or their failure to react to them, is the key issue. Failure to have compartments protected by bulkheads and waterproof doors would seem to be another issue. Initial cause of water coming in definitely an issue.
  4. Marmot

    Marmot Senior Member

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    We re talking about a boat built to and classed by ABS rules for "steel vessels under 90 meters."

    Class was brought into the discussion in posts #25 and #55, and many questions about class have been asked since. Why should it be forgotten now?

    There is no rule against exceeding class rule requirements. Who said that Serena did not exceed the mandated minimums? The contention seems to have originated in the inability of some to comprehend the difference between what is required vs what they believe should be required, what is actually fitted, or what they personally have chosen to include in their own boats.
  5. Marmot

    Marmot Senior Member

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    How have you come to that conclusion? Have you been on Serena and saw that watertight doors and bulkheads were removed or compromised?

    If the boat was built to class then flooding of any single compartment would not have sunk it. That means there were watertight compartments.

    There is a world of difference between "failure to have compartments ..." and not achieving watertight integrity. The former is a class issue, the latter is an operational issue.
  6. Pascal

    Pascal Senior Member

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    What oldboater described is the common sense approach, not the bureaucratic way

    When water comes into a vessel, the sooner you start pumping the better your chances not only to save the boat but also to minimize damage. Those two minutes it may take a crew member to make it to the compartment and then activate a pump can and will make a difference.

    On a related subject, look at the Prestige accident. Tanker breaks up due to structural issue. Class whcih inspected and certified the vessel is cleared of wrongdoing but captain is sentenced to jail by Spanish court even thought Spain refused to allow ship to come into port.
  7. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    I have worked on classed boats where there was an indicator light on the dash that showed water tight doors being open, such as engine room door. Several of them actually had indicator lights or it showed on the main panel up to 140'. After that the engine rooms were set up with a glass room for the engineer that looked right into the engine room and those alarms went to a panel in there. High water alarms still showed in pilothouse. Not required by class rules but another thing that's good to have and really not that hard to put a sensor at the door and wire it to the dash or display panel in the initial build.

    Automatic pumps they feel makes a water tight compartment not water tight because of it's discharge through the hull. However with a seacock on the thru-hull it can be made completely water tight. Also a check valve at the thru-hull will usually prevent any water flowing back and creating a water tight seal.

    That being said, every classed boat and large boat I have worked on, let's say 90'-172' had high bilge alarms for every compartment. The few only ones that didn't were commercial boats built in coonassville, and yachts that were converted from them.
  8. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    I didn't say failure to have compartments. I said failure to have the boat protected by them at the time of the incident.

    You say: "If the boat was built to class then flooding of any single compartment would not have sunk it. That means there were watertight compartments."

    I say: "Agreed, but the boat did sink."

    Conclusion: At the time of sinking there was either ingress in more than one compartment or the watertight integrity required by class was compromised.

    I'm not saying it never had such compartments. But safety is only as good as those managing it. Let's also keep in mind that this boat was not classed at the time of the accident, so we have no idea as to it's level of class compliance beyond the initial build.

    I never said the issue was class. It was very likely operational.

    I do have one question. On steel boats and others with multiple bulkheads and watertight doors, in your experience, how much emphasis is there on keeping the doors shut when underway and on regular checking of the doors to be sure they're still conforming?
  9. Marmot

    Marmot Senior Member

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    Absolute emphasis, it is part of the safety culture.

    There are position indicators on wheelhouse and control room panels that show the status and the only ones that are allowed to remain open are those in manned spaces where movement between compartments is more or less constant and are above the normal waterline. Remember those doors are as much for fire protection as watertight integrity and can be operated remotely.

    The ones that are required to be closed while underway are clearly marked as such. Watchmen make regular rounds of side hatches and doors.
  10. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    The fact that the boat dropped it's Class, leads me to believe that it was not maintained and getting it into shape was more costly than the owner wanted to spend. Considering that a classed vessel is worth a lot more on the resale market than one not classed.

    That being said, if the vessel had high water alarms the crew should've been notified right away and could've mitigated the damage. Not walked into a stateroom that had several feet of water in it. It's easy to find a leak when there's only inches in the bilge, you can see where the water is coming from. When there is several feet of water it's almost impossible to see where the water is coming from if you're underway and in a sea state. So high bilge alarms that notified the crew right away could mean the difference between finding the leak and stuffing something into it, or just deciding to prepare to jump ship.

    The fact that they didn't notice the amount of water in the boat until it was very deep in a stateroom is alarming.

    Of the classed vessels I worked on, the waterproof doors I've encountered were generally engine room door that always stays closed underway for obvious reasons (noise/smell), lazzarette access which also usually stays closed underway and sometimes side doors onto the weather deck which also stay closed generally. I've never seen waterproof/fire proof doors between staterooms or between the galley and salon or other living spaces on a classed yacht.

    Generally the water tight compartments were only water tight up until the height of the stateroom floors. The hatches to access these areas through the floors generally were not water tight and could float off if the water level got really high in a bilge.
  11. Marmot

    Marmot Senior Member

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    And this belief is based on what?

    And how do you know it did not have alarms? Who said there was no notice until someone walked into a stateroom?

    Are you making this stuff up as you go along? Were you onboard during the sinking?

    Really? I don't think I need to ask or add anything more to this conversation ...
  12. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    The First Officer is the only one to make a statement. He stated that they became aware when it started listing. Nothing was said about alarms. Now, it's always possible that statement will be contradicted by others. However, from the first time seeing his statement I was alarmed that they got no alarm.
  13. K1W1

    K1W1 Senior Member

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    Can I go as far as to suggest that the motto " We know big boats" is misleading at best when applied to this thread?

    Given some of the things I have read in this thread I am of the opinion that many of those posting here do not in fact know anywhere near what they think they know and most certainly do not know anything about big boats, IACS Rules or operational procedures.
  14. Marmot

    Marmot Senior Member

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    Thank you K1W1!

    The lack of basic knowledge about vessel construction and operations is frightening when demonstrated by those who claim the title of master.

    No one has to hold an unlimited license to contribute knowledge, experience, or opinion here but when some argue so strongly against facts on topics which are so easily researched it brings both competence and judgement into question. Passenger Beware should be carved next to the boarding ladder on a lot of boats.
  15. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    I don't even know what a big boat is. Seriously, that term is being tossed around. The forum owner used that slogan so maybe he should define it as he intended it. Regardless the majority of threads on this forum are likely not about boats most would consider big. This thread is about one boat, a 120' steel hull recreational boat. I think to some here that's big and to some that is small. We're also talking about a boat being used by the owner and not being chartered.

    I don't profess to know all big boats, all small boats, all of any boats. I do know 130' boats being used in the same way this boat was. I know some IACS Rules but don't have them memorized. I have immediate access to them anytime I need to look one up. I know our operational procedures and we're not sunk outside Port Everglades at the moment. I also know we have certain things beyond class requirements.

    I get tired of people tossing the term big boats around as if boats over a certain size are all that is important, especially when they use that to insult others with different experience. I know some who have tons of experience on all sorts of boats from the smallest to 120'. Others here captaining 130-170' boats. I also know some very familiar with 200' and above yachts and very large commercial ships and out of touch with the operation of a typical recreational boat under 150's. Some of us have an huge amount of experienced with 30' and under runabouts used on lakes.

    The point is we all have different backgrounds and experiences and different sets of knowledge. None of that knowledge is more important than any other. Experience with a 300' yacht counts no more than experience with a Post SF. We also know different aspects of the boats. Some here are active and experienced in design and building of boats. Some are owners. Some are experienced in the operation of boats and less so in the engineering side. Some are very skilled engineers but haven't had the responsibility of captaining a boat, or at least not recently. Again, none of that is better than any other. Even the most knowledgeable one here only knows the boats they've dealt with. For some that is hundreds of boats. I just tried to make a guess and I'd say as of now, I've been on approximately 10 boats in the 100-130' range, 10 boats in the 60-100' range, 4 boats between 30 and 60' and 30 boats under 30'. And that doesn't even make a ripple in the water of boats out there. None of us know the 120' one off steel Brazilian boat at the bottom of the ocean, thirteen miles out from Fort Lauderdale.

    We just hired an additional engineer. She's working her tail off to learn out boats. Hearing her experiences and the boats she's been on through college and graduate school, including summer internships and a year of commercial is extremely interesting and all those boats she was on are totally foreign to me.
  16. Capt Ralph

    Capt Ralph Senior Member

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    I think I'm understanding some of this.
    Let me ask if plausible; A class boat, may require a class crew. The owner did not schedule a class survey. Automatic dropping of the class level. That may not be the issue.
    Wondering if a non class boat can use lower level trained (non class?) crew that does not make security checks?

    I feel this the fault of Yogi; not a proper crew.

    That statement of the captain going below and checking still bugs me. There were 6 others that some should of already been reporting to him.


    Understood and agreed again.

    I believe this boat did not have to sink.
  17. Marmot

    Marmot Senior Member

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    So what makes you think any of us who contributed to this thread don't have tons of experience in little boats from 10 feet on up? I own a 48 foot boat, a couple of kayaks and just sold my 14 footer and lived for years on my 65 foot wood tug, crewed on sailboats, owned sailing dinghies, rowboats, vintage gas inboard cruisers, and am looking for a Duffy to do some propulsion experiments with ... I was not one of those who dumped on people who own or use boats of any size. Perhaps you should refrain from trying to denigrate other members for imagined slights. It comes across as a personal issue.

    The subject of this thread is a classed boat . There are no classed boats under 24 meters that I know of other than a few manned submersibles so the use of the descriptive term "big boat" is entirely appropriate. If you think the term is derogatory to "small boats" you are sorely mistaken. In the context K1W1 used it is perfectly descriptive when critiquing input from those who know nothing of "big boats" yet make the most outrageous claims despite no end of references and suggestions on how and where to find corrections to their statements.

    The site masthead claims that this is a reliable source of information and advice about "big boats" yet some seem to resent input from those who bring such knowledge to the table.

    I had a technical writing instructor years ago who suggested that one should "write about what you know about" - that same advice might improve the quality of material readers come here to find.
  18. Marmot

    Marmot Senior Member

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    Dropping class on a boat that size and age means nothing more than the owner chose to do so. Anyone trying to attribute an issue related to condition or lack of maintenance is almost certainly speculating from a position of complete ignorance of the boat and the economics of the system and the owner. I have taken "big boats" out of class because the age of the boat and its owner's type of use made remaining in class a pointless and costly exercise. It did not mean that maintenance was dropped or the boat was somehow no longer safe to operate. It was a business decision that most likely increased the chances of selling later because the buyer of that type of boat was most likely not one who needed or cared about class. Contrary to some beliefs, the issue is far from black and white.

    Manning requirements are a flag issue, not class. Flag may use class notations (periodically unmanned machinery spaces for example) to determine the number of crew members required for specific operations and areas. If the boat is operated commercially and carries "guests" (a yacht industry euphemism for paying passenger) certain of the crew are required to hold a certain level of license.

    Acquiring that license usually involves a degree of training, education, and experience. The lower levels of licensing require a very low minimum but at least the licensing process exposes the applicant to the vocabulary and a few of the concepts that this thread has shown to be frighteningly absent on a couple of boats and may have lead to their loss.

    Most flag states do not require privately operated recreational vessels to be operated by licensed crew members.

    [quote[That statement of the captain going below and checking still bugs me. There were 6 others that some should of already been reporting to him.[/quote]

    I completely agree with that. Either the captain could not trust the crew to evaluate a problem or he lacked the confidence to delegate responsibility. In either case that boat did not have a crew. Leadership and training appears to have been lacking.
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2016
  19. Capt Ralph

    Capt Ralph Senior Member

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    I don't recall myself mentioning anything about any maintenance issues, just re-stating what happened,, class dropped. I'm sure the owner had his reasons and I am not questioning them. Ignorant,, maybe,, but I was asking.

    I'm assuming things change when it's for family and personal use,,,, NOT charter or for hire.



    Where i was (maybe poorly) trying to go.
  20. Capt Ralph

    Capt Ralph Senior Member

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