Tuesday, September 8, 2009

reality slap

I'm adding this photo to my blog purely because of the jolt that I received when I saw it. This is an undoctored photo taken from a helicopter. The tanker split in half because the crew failed to calculate hull stress incurred in loading cargo.

I don't know what in particular made this picture ring my bell, but if you could see inside my head, you'd understand that this is the stuff that nightmares are made of.

Also, imagine being one of those poor pricks in the lifeboat. Those things are miserable death traps on a good day.


Anonymous said...

The ship sunk not by crew fault but the owner fault. The captain is an hero that stay a bord of an old rusty ship. before the ship broke the crew abandon the ship and later rescued by helicopter. none was hurt.

Henry the Navigator

Paul, Dammit! said...

I can not agree with you, Henry. The owner did not write the loading plan for the ship. The ship broke because she was hogged when the forward and after tanks were loaded, but the midship tanks were left empty. RINA classed the vessel as safe, and it was well known that she was built with light scantlings. The captain was courageous, and did oversee that safe rescue of his crew, but that does not absolve him of responsibility for the stowage plan that caused the hogging of the hull. There was an error chain that caused the accident, and no one person or group caused this- they all contributed. The complexity of the court cases reflects the difficulty in assigning blame to the multiple parties involved in the accident.

Superchief said...

In the interest of reality I suggest you do some research on the loss of the Erika. There are many studies into that causualty. Flag, class, environmental groups, and oil companies all searched for someone to blame and none of them even hint at improper loading. If crew failure could have been blamed, believe me, all investigations would have stopped there and a lot others would have breathed a large sigh of relief.

Be very careful about blaming others for something like this, if your little barge had a problem how would you like some internet pundit blaming you for it?

Paul, Dammit! said...

Well,I did my homework, and I have found that I was basing far too much on the early media war during the days after the casualty. RINA's final report was quite good, though incompletely available. Most of the 'expert' commentary is being handled by groups with something to sell, (Do a google search on 'coloumbi egg hull design', and you'll see some serious whoring and shameless self-promotion) or something to lose in the litigation, so I haven't assigned much value there.
It's easy to see why the management-level officers were destined to get thrown under the bus; ship cracked in half, which is a classic sign of improper loading (and thus the charges thrown around in the early days by RINA and continued here erroneously by yours truly), and provisions of UNCLOS (The Law of the Sea treaty) violated... no one wants an international pissing match on their hands.
As Henry the Navigator pointed out, there is enough finger pointing going on to date without my adding to the mix. I'm a little embarassed at being busted for not looking deeper into the matter, but damn, I saw the picture and the words 'improperly loaded tanker' and I ran away with it. Foolish of me to not go deeper, I suppose. Lesson learned.

Anonymous said...

The judicial investigation, presented to the court, said that the 25 year-old ship had to be used intensively to pay off the loan with which it was purchased. Several warnings had been given in the previous two years about the Erika's severely corroded hull. Only limited repairs were made, with steel sheets that were too thin, the report by an investigating magistrate said.
The aging and rusting ship, which split in two off off Britanny, on December 12, 1999, was Japanese-built, Italian-owned and controlled by two Liberian companies. The Erika was crewed by Indians, sailing under a Maltese flag, chartered by a shipping company registered in the Bahamas for a French oil company.
The tribunal in Paris was told that the ship had already been identified as a potential risk. It was nonetheless allowed to leave Dunkirk in high seas, carrying a cargo of 20,000 tonnes of toxic heavy fuel oil. The ship foundered three days later.
The Indian captain of the Erika, the tanker at the centre of a major oil spill off France in 1999, on Wednesday filed for a million dollars in compensation for income he has lost since the shipwreck.

Karun Mathur is one of more than 15 parties facing charges in a major trial that opened in February in Paris to pin down responsibility for the pollution to France's Atlantic coastline.
Represented in court by his lawyers, Mathur asked for more than $980,000 in damages from the ship's owners and operators -- also charged in the case -- on grounds he has been unable to find a suitable job since.
Rejecting charges of endangering lives and of sparking pollution through negligence, the ship's captain says he is a victim in the case.
Unemployed for two years after the disaster, Mathur now works in a "humble port job and will never find another ship," said one of his lawyers. (The dark side of the case!!)
He is asking for two years of his former salary -- 94,128 euros -- plus the difference between his former and current wage for the next 25 years -- 588,300 euros -- and 50,000 euros in moral damages: a total of 732,428 euros.
His request targets the Italian maritime certification company RINA, a member of its board Gianpiero Ponasso, the Italian owner of the Erika, Giuseppe Savarese, and his manager Antonio Pollara.
A 25-year-old rusting tanker, Erika was carrying 20000 tonnes of heavy fuel oil when it broke in two and sank off Frances Brittany cost on December 12, 1999, polluting huge stretches of coastline and killing thousands of seabirds.
Henry, the Navigator