DOSSIER

 

NTSB report - $72.9m accident ‘due to fatigue ’


A report by the US National Transportation Safety Board directly blamed an incoming captain’s fatigue for contact with an offshore platform, costing $72.9m. There were also anchor issues.


A report by the US National Transportation Safety Board, on a tanker ‘Atina’ making contact with an offshore platform offshore Louisiana, directly blamed the fatigue of an incoming captain.

The incident led to $72.9m of costs, with nearly all of the damage on the offshore platform.

The incident happened on Oct 17 2020, shortly after a replacement captain joined the vessel, having travelled from Turkey, and said he had not slept for 50 hours. Being tired, he wanted to anchor as quickly as possible.

The investigation noted that the company’s safety management system required a minimum one-day turnover between senior personnel aboard a company vessel if the oncoming senior person worked for the company, and seven days if the senior person was new to the company.

The incoming master had never been aboard Atina but had worked for the company in the past.

But the incoming master boarded the vessel when it was underway to the anchorage, only seeing the departing master on the tanker’s deck.

“The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause .. was the Atina’s operating company not ensuring sufficient time for the master’s turnover, which resulted in the master’s acute fatigue and poor situation awareness during an attempted night-time anchoring evolution,” it stated in the report.

“Vessel operating companies should ensure that joining crewmembers/ personnel are given the opportunity to obtain a sufficient handover period and adequate rest before taking over critical shipboard duties, such as navigation, that could impact the safety of crew, property, and the environment,” the report said.

In this case, “an overlap would have allowed for the incoming master to rest and receive his counterpart’s handover information.”

Other factors were that the previous captain wished to leave the vessel after problems with a vetting inspection. There were 25 knot winds and difficulties anchoring at the time of the contact with the platform. There was also a river current. The incident happened at night time.

The vessel was also asked to change anchoring location by authorities, and in doing so lost track of the location of the platform.

There were problems with navigation situation awareness, with the vessel anchored 0.7 miles from the offshore oil and gas production platform, while its intended anchorage was 3.2 miles northeast of the platform.


The contact

Estimated damages to the platform were $72.3 million. A fractured and bulged leg, and severed, buckled, and crushed structural members above and below the waterline.

Damages to the ship were $598,400 – the starboard accommodation ladder and indentations to hull plating in ballast tanks 3-starboard and 5-starboard.

The platform’s four crewmembers and one technician evacuated to a nearby platform by helicopter after activating the emergency shutdown device to shut in wells. No pollution or injuries were reported.
More details
The vessel, Atina, is a crude and products tanker, owned by Hanzhou 1 Ltd. and operated by Beşiktaş Group, and flagged in Malta. It has a double hull, a fixed pitch propeller, and no thrusters.

A SIRE inspection report was carried out 2 days before the accident on Oct 15, 2020.

Before joining the vessel, the incoming master visited the company office in Istanbul, Turkey, and learned that the master on board had “issues with the vetting [SIRE] inspector” and that he intended to leave. The incoming master said that he had to “urgently” join the vessel to relieve him.

According to Atina’s passage plan, dated October 16, one day before the accident, the tanker’s intended anchorage was about 3.2 miles northeast of platform SP-57B and about 5.5 miles southeast of a sea buoy.

The master told investigators that he didn’t want to spend a lot of time finding a place to anchor in the middle of the night on a vessel he wasn’t familiar with.

He also told investigators that he wanted to anchor the tanker soon after the pilot’s departure, because he was tired from having no sleep for over 50 hours while traveling to join the ship.

He checked the electronic chart display and information system (ECDIS) and planned to drop the anchor in the Fairway Anchorage area, in what he deemed was a safe place, about 7 cables (0.7 miles) from the platform SP-57B.

 

Accident details

The master, second mate, able seafarer, helmsman, and ordinary seafarer lookout were on the bridge at the time of the accident.

At 0400, radar and ECDIS images captured by the ship’s VDR showed the vessel south of its easterly voyage plan trackline and moving farther to the south.

At 0402, with the vessel heading 115° at a speed over the ground of 2.8 knots and a course over the ground of 170°, the master ordered Atina’s bosun, who was on the bow of the tanker, to begin lowering the port anchor.

The tanker was in about 167 feet of water and within the boundaries of the Southwest Pass Fairway Anchorage area.

At 0409, there were 2 shots (180 feet) of chain in the water, and the chain was taking a lead of about 9 o’clock. At that same time, SP-57B was about 0.8 miles off the tanker’s starboard beam, and the wind was just forward of its port beam.

At 0413, as the vessel’s crew continued to lower the port anchor to 5 shots (450 feet) in the water, Atina’s master asked the second mate for the distance to a vessel that the master believed had not been visible a few minutes ago.

At 0414, the master told the second mate he believed the target was “6 cables” (0.6 miles), and the second mate replied that it was 1.5 miles.

Nineteen seconds later the master replied, “Okay, but what is that thing we see at 5 cables?” The second mate replied, “Bearing 210, range 1.5 miles.” The master asked if the target was moving; the second mate said it was anchored and again confirmed this after the captain asked, “Anchored, right?”

At 0416 the bosun reported there were 5 shots in the water and the anchor chain was leading 8 o’clock. About the same time, SP-57B was about 0.7 miles off the tanker’s port bow.

About 0417, with the sea buoy bearing 3 10° at 2.34 miles from the Atina, the Southwest Pass pilot station called Atina on VHF radio and asked if they were going into the anchorage; the vessel’s crew replied that they were “dropping anchor now.”

The pilot station then stated, “Move more than 4 miles from the sea buoy,” and then repeated, “more than 4 miles from sea buoy.”

At 0420, the master stated, “There is no sleep for me, it has been three days straight,” and at 0421, he ordered the anchor to be heaved up.

At 043 1, the bosun reported the “chain was grinding the hull.” The master ordered hard starboard rudder with SP-57B on the Atina’s starboard quarter at 0.7 miles and the wind dead ahead of the vessel at 24 knots.

At 0437, 20 seconds after the bosun reported 3 shots (270 feet) on deck, the master asked the second mate to confirm that they “will have no problem with that ship,” that they would clear it. At the same time, SP-57B was about 0.7 miles on the vessel’s starboard bow bearing 174°.

The master then asked the second mate for the distance from the other vessel, and the mate replied, “One mile bearing 175°.” At 0440, after first remarking that it looked like the ship was “closing in,” the master asked the second mate what the ship was doing, to which the second mate replied, “She is speeding with 5.3 knots at this moment.”

At the same time, Atina was making a speed over ground of 5 knots. About 0441 the master asked the second mate for the name of the ship, and the second mate replied, “Leader, sir, at starboard.”

[Leader was an offshore supply vessel in the vicinity].

The master replied, “This is not a ship, it is a platform.”

About 0442, parametric data obtained from the tanker’s VDR showed the rudder went from midship to 32° to port.

At 0444, the master stated, “We are hitting,” and, according to parametric data from Atina’s VDR, at 0446 the starboard side of Atina struck the northern side of SP-57B at 3.8 knots.

After notifying the company and Southwest Pass pilot station of the strike, the tanker went to anchor in the Southwest Pass Fairway Anchorage.

Post accident alcohol and other drug testing was conducted with negative results for all crewmembers.

According to the 96-hour work/rest history form for the master, he had no sleep in the 24-hour period before the accident and 19 hours of sleep during the 96 hours before the accident.

Ninety-six-hour work/rest history forms for the second mate, helmsman, and lookout indicated that all were in compliance with work/rest requirements.

 

Navigation

At the time of the accident, there was a current at about 247° and a drift of about 1.5 knots.

Atina’s radar displays showed the wind out of the northeast at 25 knots.

The master told investigators that he was aware of the 25-knot wind.

Atina’s VDR information included data from the S-band and X-band radars. At the time of the accident, the S-band radar was set to a 3-mile range.

The S-band radar screen showed the offshore supply vessel “Leader” as an automatic identification system (AIS) target.

The alarm “AIS COLLISION” was visible in red text under “AIS ALERT” on the S-band radar screen.

The X-band radar was set to a 1.5-mile range and did not show any alarms or AIS information.

The second mate told investigators that an alarm was activated on the radar he was referencing in the time leading up to the accident.


NTSB analysis

NTSB’s analysis and assessment was that the bridge team lost track of the platform’s location, as they were heaving the anchor to comply with the change request. Based on the VDR audio, it appears that the master believed the platform was another vessel.

When the master asked what the vessel at 6 cables was doing (platform SP-57B was at that approximate distance), the second mate gave the master distances and information for the offshore supply vessel Leader, which was located 1.5 miles away from the tanker, 0.9 miles beyond SP-57B.

The S-band radar was the only radar that included vessel names and the only radar showing an alarm.

Because the second mate informed investigators that an alarm was activated on the radar he was using, it is likely that the second mate was looking at the S-band radar.

The S-band radar was set at a scale of 3 miles, making platform SP-57B difficult to see because it was lost in radar clutter close to the Atina.
The master was likely looking at the X-band radar, on which the scale was set to 1.5 miles, making the SP-57B easily visible at 0.5 miles.

Also, the master did not adequately account for the westerly setting current and north-easterly wind that pushed his vessel toward the platform.

“Likely preoccupied with bringing the anchor in clear from the hull, the master ordered hard starboard rudder while the platform was on the Atina’s starboard quarter and with the wind coming from dead ahead,” NTSB said in its report.

“By doing so, he ended up pivoting Atina toward SP-57B and putting the wind and current on the Atina’s port side, which caused the vessel to set toward the platform.”

“As the platform’s relative position to Atina shifted from the tanker’s starboard quarter to the starboard bow and the ship pivoted about the anchor chain, the combination of set and Atina moving ahead brought the tanker in contact with the platform as the amount of chain in the water lessened and the ship gathered speed.”

 

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