Thursday, January 11, 2007

Another near miss for BC Ferries

The local news media is yet again, abuzz with "bad" BC Ferries news. A vehicle went off the loading ramp and into the drink early yesterday night. Although many factors can contribute to any accident, some are drawing parallels to a similar incident that claimed three lives at the Departure Bay terminal in 1992. The ferry does not leave the Departure Bay terminal but rather a smaller terminal further south - see map on the right.

I live near the ferry and at the time it was dark and cold but relatively quiet in the wind department although we had some heavy gust during the day. If I am not mistaken, I remember hearing of controls issues with that ferry in the past, but I believe it had been resolved.

Never the less the people of Gabriola Island, which the ferry serves, has had quite a few weeks. Many storms have lashed the island and now the ferry remains "grounded" by Transport Canada until they are satisfied.

The MV Quinsam is pictured to the right, more info about the vessel can be had here, on John Hammersmark's site. BC Ferries news release is here. Below is the story from theTimes Colonist, a Victoria Newspaper...

Truck falls off Gabriola ferry ramp Driver jumps to safety as vessel pulls away during loading
Kim Westad, Times Colonist, Wednesday, January 10, 2007

A man was forced to jump out of his pickup truck on the loading ramp of the Gabriola Island ferry last night after the ferry pulled away from the dock with the vehicle still on the ramp. The man jumped to the pavement safely, but his truck plunged into the water.

There's no obvious reason why the MV Quinsam would have pulled away from the Nanaimo Harbour berth, B.C. Ferries president David Hahn said last night from Nanaimo.

"That would be speculation. But we know the berth didn't move so we have to assume that for some reason, the ship backed off from its required position against the berth," said Hahn, who was just getting off the Horseshoe Bay ferry in Nanaimo when he was alerted of the incident. Hahn went to the terminal and spoke with the Gabriola Island man.

The Quinsam was almost loaded just before the 6:55 p.m. sailing from Nanaimo to Gabriola Island, a 10-minute trip, when it pulled away from the dock. The 1992 GMC pickup was the only vehicle on the loading ramp.

The driver had been signalled by a deckhand to load, Hahn said. Then he was signalled to stop. The driver knew the vehicle was in a "funny position," Hahn said. Then the deckhand shouted at the man to get out of the truck.

The man -- whose name was not released, and is described as a regular on the ferry -- jumped onto the pavement. Hahn talked to him shortly afterwards. "He handled it very well. He was shook up, as I know I would be. I've got to give him credit. He said, 'I'm just glad I didn't get wet.' "

The man has been offered counselling, was put up in a hotel and put in touch with an insurance company to replace his truck. Several investigations are underway, including those by the Transportation Safety Board, the police, Transport Canada and B.C. Ferries.

In 1992, three people died after their van rolled into the water when the Queen of New Westminster pulled out of the Departure Bay terminal in Nanaimo with the vehicle still on the ramp. Ferry service to Gabriola was suspended last night and this morning. B.C. Ferries arranged a water taxi to transport people to Gabriola last night and today.

After the incident, the Quinsam completed its Gabriola run, and is now tied up as the investigations continue.

Its not a job, its an adventure!

You would think that after the Greeneville, US attack submarine commanders would steer well clear of any Japanese ship, especially the ones as big as a mountain, oh wait that has also recently been a problem. I guess some traditions die hard.

Below are excerpts from K Line press release regarding the collision, and a news story from Virginia regarding whose at fault. Maybe the sub was trying to pull one of those stunts seen in "Down Periscope".

The Mogamigawa is a 300,000 dwt Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC), Carrying 2,114,000 barrels of oil. It is one in a series of four built for K Line, this one built by Japanese yard
IMABARI. It flies the Japanese flag and is crewed by Japanese officers and Filipinos crew. It is 333 meters long, 60 meter wide and has a depth of 21.26 meters.

The First K Line press release, January 9, 2007, goes like this...

VLCC "Mogamigawa" collided with a submarine at 22:45 of Jan. 8 local time (04:15 of Jan. 9 Japan standard time) after passing Strait of Hormuz. She was sailing for Singapore. She resumed navigation and will call the nearest port for survey although bottom part of ballast tank was damaged. There was no oil leakage and no injured crew. Detail of opponent ship is unknown.

Emergency response head quarter was implemented today.

1. Ship’s name : "Mogamigawa"

2. Registered : Japan
3. Gross tonnage : 160,229
4. Ship’s owner : Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha, Ltd.
5. Number of crew : 24
6. Date/Time of collision 22:45 of Jan. 8 local time
7. Location : South of Strait of Hormuz (approximately 26-19.7North, 56-41.4East)

January 11, 2007

Collision of VLCC "Mogamigawa" No.3

Inspection by diver resumed in the morning of Jan. 10.
Finally following damages were found on bottom of ballast tank No.5:

- approximately 3.5m x 10m of dent with two holes, approximately 20cm x 10cm and 40cm x 20cm respectively (same location as reported in press release No.2 yesterday)
- approximately 2m x 4m of dent with three holes, approximately 10cm x 5cm, 10cm x 5cm and 20cm x 10cm respectively
- approximately 2m x 10m of dent

Also all propeller blade edges were found missing approximately 8cm from tip.

All holes were plugged up by temporary repair and flooding into No.5 ballast tank was stopped. Consequently classification society ClassNK issued recommendations that she should arrive shipyard for permanent repair by Feb. 9 after unloading cargo.
She sailed Khor Fakkan, United Arab Emirates at 23:00 of Jan. 10 local time (04:00 of Jan. 11 Japan standard time) and is bound for Singapore due on Jan.20.
Shipyard for permanent repair will be selected in due course.
VLCC "Mogamigawa" collided with submarine USS "Newport News" on Jan. 8 after passing Strait of Hormuz.

Heres an article on the event... Another one from ABC News can be found here. .

Navy says speed of tanker sucked submarine up to surface

By JACK DORSEY, The Virginian-Pilot, January 10, 2007

NORFOLK - The submarine Newport News was submerged and leaving the Persian Gulf when a mammoth Japanese oil tanker passed overhead at a high speed, creating a sucking effect that made the sub rise and hit the ship, the Navy said Tuesday.

That is the preliminary finding of Monday's collision between the Norfolk-based submarine and the Mogamigawa, a 1,100-foot-long merchant ship displacing 300,000 tons. Both were southbound, crossing the busy and narrow Strait of Hormuz while heading into the Arabian Sea.

"As the ship passed over the sub, it ended up sucking the submarine into it," said Lt. Cmdr. Chris Loundermon, a spokesman for Submarine Force in Norfolk. "It is a principle called the venturi effect," he said.

The Mogamigawa, built in 2001, is a super tanker that displaces 300,000 tons of water - three times the amount of water of a modern aircraft carrier. The Newport News, a Los Angeles-class submarine, displaces 6,900 tons of water. "This was a very, very large ship moving at higher speed," Loundermon said.

No one was injured aboard either ship, the Navy said, and damage to both vessels is relatively minor. The collision was the fifth involving a U.S. submarine in the past six years, according to news records. Four of those incidents involved other surface ships. In one case, a submarine hit an undersea mountain.

The Newport News collided with the Mogamigawa while submerged in the Arabian Sea about 10:30 p.m. local time, the Navy said. Afterward, it was going to Bahrain to check for further damage. "She is headed to port right now," Cmdr. Kevin Aandahl, a spokesman for the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command in Bahrain, said late Tuesday from Bahrain.

Damage to the Norfolk-based Newport News appears to be confined to the bow, he said. The sail, or mast, and the sub's nuclear reactor were unharmed, he said. Aand ahl said he could not discuss details such as the speed or depth of the submarine at the time of the impact.

Aandahl emphasized that the Newport News was not surfacing at the time, as was reported earlier by CNN. The Strait of Hormuz separates the Arabian Gulf from the Gulf of Oman and the North Arabian Sea. It is about 40 miles wide - 34 miles wide at its narrowest point, according to

The strait, which is the world's most important oil chokepoint, has channels for inbound and outbound tanker traffic that are 2 miles wide, as well as a buffer zone of 2 miles, according to the Web site.

The Newport News left Norfolk along with the aircraft carrier Eisenhower strike group in October for a six-month deployment to the Middle East. The Mogamigawa was traveling from the Persian Gulf to Singapore with a crew of eight Japanese members and 16 Filipino members. The submarine has a crew of about 130.

The other four submarine collisions in the past six years are:

  • Sept. 5, 2005: The fast-attack submarine Philadelphia and the Turkish merchant ship Aysen met about 2 a.m., 30 miles off the coast of Bahrain, resulting in minor damage.

    The Aysen was attempting to overtake the submarine and approached the Philadelphia from the sub's port quarter.

    The ship damaged the sub's propeller, the sailplanes, a periscope and dented the Philadelphia's hull.

  • Jan. 9, 2005: The attack submarine San Francisco, traveling at a high speed near Guam, struck an undersea mountain, killing one crew man and injuring 24.
  • Nov. 2, 2002: The fast-attack submarine Oklahoma City struck a Norwegian merchant ship in the western Mediterranean Sea, damaging the sub's sail and periscope but causing no injuries.

    Its commanding officer was relieved of command.

  • Feb. 9, 2001: The attack submarine Greenville ran into the Japanese fishing and training vessel Ehime Maru off the coast of Hawaii while performing an emergency surfacing maneuver during a demonstration cruise for civilian visitors. Nine crew members on the Japanese ship died.

    The National Transportation Safety Board concluded that collision was caused by inadequate communication among senior members of the crew.

    The commanding officer was relieved of command and retired.