Proceedings magazine is a communication tool for the Coast Guard's Marine Safety & Security Council. Each quarterly magazine focuses on a specific theme of interest to the marine industry.
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planned. 3 The crew went into their watch routine and began to stow and secure items to prepare for the hurricane. Trouble Ahead On Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012, all forecasts predicted the hur- ricane to turn to the west and make landfall in New Jersey. However, despite these forecasts, the master chose to alter the vessel's course from east-southeast to southwest, which placed it into the direct path of the storm, approximately 188 nautical miles from Atlantic City, New Jersey. Soon after, the weather deteriorated rapidly with swells growing between 15 to 20 feet in size and winds gusting up to 70 knots. By late Saturday morning, the heavy seas were making it diffcult to walk about the vessel, and lifelines were rigged on the tween decks to assist crew members. Regardless of the precautions, the engineer fell on deck and fractured his hand. By evening, the crew grew concerned about the excessive water in the bilges. 4 The ship had been known to take on 82 Proceedings Winter 2014 – 2015 www.uscg.mil/proceedings some water during heavy seas, but by the evening the amount of water became atypical. At this time, the vessel's electric bilge pumps were running continuously, so the mas- ter ordered his crew to hook up a hydraulically driven bilge pump and place it in the engine room — the pump would run off of the starboard main engine. On Sunday morning, Oct. 28, 2012, the seas grew between 20 to 30 feet in size, with winds in excess of 90 knots. The vessel was on a course of 233 degrees true at a speed of 4 knots, motoring under both main engines and sailing under its fore course sail. At this time, the crew started to feel sea sickness and/or fatigue. The engineer fell again, this time in the engine room, and suffered a gash on his arm and injured his leg. The electric bilge pumps were still in continuous operation, but having diffculty drawing suction, because of the chang- ing water levels. Moreover, the portable hydraulic pump became clogged, due to debris in the bilges. Preconditions When the master departed New London to head toward Hurricane Sandy, he knew the following information: • The vessel had a history of "making" water through the hull and deck under normal operation and much more so in heavy seas. 1 • The vessel's age and history. • The open defciencies from the ABS 2010 load line exami- nation, most of which involved watertight integrity and watertight subdivision. • The vessel's frames and hull planking had decay, but the master did not know to what extent. It was never explored in the shipyard; however, one of the shipyard employees said under testimony that he had warned the master to "pick and choose how he used the boat," and to avoid heavy weather. • The weight movements on the vessel during the shipyard period had changed the longitudinal center of gravity and invalidated the vessel's stability letter. The master did not know how the change in trim and distribution of weight was going to afect the vessel. • The crew had concerns that the electric bilge dewatering system was not functioning properly. The hydraulic pumps onboard were rarely used, and no one other than the master had experience using them. Moreover, the hydraulic pumps were not tested prior to departure. The gasoline powered trash pump was not tested and no one aboard was familiar with its operation. • Several crew members were inexperienced. The engineer had less than two weeks underway and was not familiar with the engine room. The cook had been aboard for one day. Also, 10 out of 16 crew members had less than one season experience on the vessel. • The crew had not completed an abandon ship or fre drill since before the yard period (August 2012). • He knew there was a hurricane. Company and crew testi- mony, emails, and text messages all showed conclusively that the master had utter and total clarity on the size, scope, and forecast of Hurricane Sandy. He charted the position of the storm and knew exactly where it was. Endnote: 1. There are two other separate fooding incidents that are known to the Coast Guard, where the master was in command: a. In October 1998, the vessel was transiting from Massachusetts to St. Peters- burg, Florida, when the vessel encountered a storm. The vessel began to take on water when the bilge pumps failed. The vessel was only able to make it to Charleston, South Carolina, with the assistance of the U.S. Coast Guard, a U.S. Navy damage control team, and several other assisting vessels. b. In December 2010, the vessel was transiting from Boothbay Harbor, Maine, to winter berth in Puerto Rico, when the vessel encountered a storm. The vessel began to take on water when the bilge pumps had difculty keeping up with water ingress. There was damage to the vessel's masts and rigging, but the vessel was able to make it to Bermuda for an emergency port call. This incident was never reported to the Coast Guard.