Search launched for French-registry trawler missing in the Irish Sea

     The Toul an Trez (French-registry trawler built in 1967, homeported at
Camaret) was reported missing 24 Dec. after a storm passed over Ireland and
the United Kingdom with winds of up to 145 kilometers per hour/90 miles per
hour and seas of six meters/20 feet. British and French vessels, three
helicopters and a British Royal Air Force Nimrod MR Mk 2P from No. 18 Group
at Royal Air Force Kinloss in Grampian, Scotland, were concentrating their
search 60 kilometers/35 miles off southern Wales. The trawler has a crew of
five. The search was launched after a satellite received a signal from the
vessel's Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon. The E.P.I.R.B. has
been located along with debris believed to be from the trawler.

Two crewmembers of fishing vessel killed off Texas

     On 11 Dec., the fishing vessel Gulf King caught fire 96 kilometers/60
miles east of Freeport, Texas. The three crewmembers abandoned the Gulf
King in 23-knot winds and 2.7-meter/nine-foot seas after their liferaft
failed to inflate. A vessel in the area rescued one crewmember and found
the body of another. The survivor was taken to a hospital by a U.S. Coast
Guard HH-65A Dolphin helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Houston. The
body of the third crewmember was located by an HU-25A Falcon aircraft from
Coast Guard Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas, and recovered by the Coast
Guard's "Island"-class Patrol Boat U.S.C.G.C. Knight Island (WPB 1348).

Master killed as ship sinks in the Skagerrak Strait

     The Lass Sun (German-registry 1,515-gt, 2,376-dwt general cargo ship
built in 1992, operated by H.H. Wubbe Nachf) sank late 20 Dec. after
colliding with the Valentin Pikul (Russian-registry 2,264-gt, 2,917-dwt
general cargo ship built in 1994, operated by North Western Shipping Co.)
in the Skagerrak Strait between Denmark and Norway at 57 degrees 48 minutes
north, 10 degrees 50 minutes east. The Lass Sun's master was killed while
its five other crewmembers were rescued by the Valentin Pikulye. They were
taken to a hospital in Skagen, Denmark, while the Valentin Pikulye, which
was holed in its bow, continued to St. Petersburg, Russia. It had sailed
from the Netherlands. The Lass Sun was sailing from Klaipeda, Lithuania, to
Teesport, England, with fertilizer. Visibility at the time of the collision
was said to be good.

Engine room fire off Brazil kills crewmember

     The Aruba (Dutch-registry) had an engine room fire 26 Dec., 880
kilometers/550 miles northeast of Natal, Brazil. The 14 people aboard were
rescued from lifeboats by the Magellan (Panamanian-registry) but a 14th
crewmember died of second-degree burns. The Aruba was carrying 100 empty
containers and 1,000 tons of cotton from the Cote d'Ivoire to Colombia. The
fire was last reported to be almost out and the ship is not in danger of
sinking.

Crewmember aboard bulk carrier burned in explosion

     A crewmember aboard a bulk carrier in the English Channel suffered
first-degree facial burns the morning of 22 Dec. in an explosion.

Lotus Islands reported sinking in Pacific Ocean

     The Lotus Islands (Panamanian-registry 15,175-dwt dry cargo ship built
in 1983, operated by Naviera Poseidon) broadcast a distress call late 22
Dec. or early 23 Dec. that said the ship was sinking in the Pacific Ocean.
Three vessels, including the Pioneer of Kirghizia (Russian-registry), which
was sailing to South Korea, were at last report sailing to the area to
begin a search.

Anjana believed to have sunk south of Norway, 11 crew rescued

     A helicopter rescued the 11 crewmembers of the Anjana
(Bahamian-registry 5,500-gt, 5,662-dwt vessel owned by Finn Olsen) on 20
Dec. south of Norway after the ship began flooding and took on a heavy
list. The Anjana was loaded with ore and was not found during a subsequent
search. The crew included nine citizens of the Philippines and two
Norwegian citizens.

Kukawa catches fire in the English Channel

     The Kukawa (British-registry 29,572-gt, 21,646-dwt ro/ro and
containership built in 1975, operated by OT Africa Line Ltd.) caught fire
in the English Channel about midday 20 Dec. at 49 degrees 46 minutes north,
02 degrees 59.5 minutes west. The fire began in the engine room but spread
to the accomodation area. Ten of the 33 crewmembers were taken by
helicopter to the Triton Diamond (Panamanian-registry 14,930-dwt ro/ro
built in 1994, operated by Hachiuma Kisen K.K.) but the remainder stayed
aboard to fight the fire with 26 British and two French firefighters. The
10 were later taken by helicopter to Cherbourg, France, and the Kukawa was
towed to Falmouth, England by the Far Minara (British-registry 1,968-dwt
tug built in 1983, operated by Farstad Shipping Ltd.). A stowaway was found
aboard the Kukawa on 21 Dec. but was not injured in the fire. The Kukawa
was sailing from Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire, to Rotterdam, the Netherlands,
when it caught fire about 40 kilometers/25 miles northwest of Guernsey in
the United Kingdom's Channel Islands. It was carrying 29,500 tons of cargo
including vehicles and containers loaded with items including cocoa and
timber. The ship will be repaired at Falmouth Shiprepair.

Fishing vessel sinks near Southwest Pass

     The Lucky Man (134-gt, 23-meter/75-foot fishing vessel) sank near the
Mississippi River's Southwest Pass in Louisiana on 15 Dec. All four
crewmembers were rescued by another vessel in the area.

Containership beached in Singapore after flooding

     The Sin Ma (Singaporean-registry 5,548-gt containership), sailing from
Singapore to the Chinese ports of Shantou and Xiamen, began flooding and
took on a list 20 Dec. It was run aground near Horsburgh Lighthouse in
Singapore. Damage is said to be severe and includes a flooded engine room.

Fourteen vessels aground in Guam

     Fourteen vessels ran aground in Apra Harbor in Guam on 16 Dec. during
Super Typhoon Paka.

Singaporean-registry ship grounds in Dardanelles Strait

     The Andhika Fatima (Singaporean-registry 38,398-dwt bulk carrier built
in 1986, operated by Andhika Shipmanagement Pte. Ltd.) ran aground in
Turkey's Dardanelles Strait on 18 Dec. The ship was not carrying any cargo
and was sailing from Aliaga, Turkey, to Ukraine.

MSC Rita arrives in Boston with weather damage

     The MSC Rita (Panamanian-registry 35,520-dwt containership built in
1974, operated by Mediterranean Shipping Co.) arrived in Boston 21 Dec.
with damage to four cargo hatches and four hazardous materials incidents
due to cargo damage. The ship was supposed to arrive from Le Havre, France,
on 18 Dec. but was slowed by heavy weather. One hatch aft of the
superstructure reportedly toppled onto the deck. About 60 containers were
lost overboard from the ship.

Update on vessel sunk off Haiti

     Nineteen people were killed, 17 are missing and 20 were rescued after
a vessel sank near La Gonave Island, Haiti, on 13 Dec. The vessel
apparently hit a reef and sank in water 658 meters/1,260 feet deep. It was
sailing between La Gonave Island and Port-au-Prince, Haiti, with passengers
and cargo that included 150 sacks of rice, 105 sacks of cement and 15 tons
of beans.

Pilot in Diamond Grace grounding suspended a month

     Japan's Yokohama Local Marine Accidents Inquiry Agency on 25 Dec.
ordered that the pilot who was aboard the Diamond Grace
(Panamanian-registry 259,999-dwt tanker built in 1994, operated by Mari
Tech) be suspended for one-month. Seiji Ushio, 57, was aboard the ship when
it ran aground in Tokyo Bay on 2 July. The agency said that the grounding
was the result of Ushio not ordering a proper course. It also said that no
action will be taken against the master of the Diamond Grace, Hidenori
Tsunematsu, 55, "although his action of not asking the pilot to take an
appropriate course should be criticized." The report recommended that the
large volume of traffic in the bay be mitigated through better training of
pilots, among other items. The Diamond Grace spilled 9,750 barrels (1.55
million liters/403,000 gallons) of crude oil between Yokohama and Kawasaki
in Japan's Kanagawa prefecture after damaging its cargo tanks off
Yokohama's Hommoku Pier. The tanker made a starboard turn to avoid a
fishing vessel.

Kuroshima remains aground near Dutch Harbor

     All 266,000 liters/70,000 gallons of Bunker C fuel aboard the
Kuroshima (Panamanian-registry 4,160-gt, 4,845-dwt, 112-meter/368-foot
motor refrigerated ship built in 1988, owned by Kuroshima Shipping S.A. and
operated by Fukuoka Zosen K.K.) has now been removed. As a result, it is
estimated that 179,000 liters/47,000 gallons were spilled after the ship
ran aground on Second Priest Rock about 90 meters/300 feet off Dutch
Harbor, Alaska, the afternoon of 26 Nov. Another 43,890 liters/11,550
gallons has been recovered. The Kuroshima had anchored off Dutch Harbor and
was to load seafood when its anchor chain snapped in high winds. Two
Philippine crewmembers from Manila, Michael Valdellon, 46, the chief
officer, and Benito Gestosani, 36, were killed while the 16 other
crewmembers were rescued after a lifeboat was pulled to shore by a line
fired to the ship. The master and chief engineer are Japanese citizens with
the rest of the crew from the Philippines.

Saga Group cancels cruise of Saga Rose

     Saga Group has cancelled a 16-night cruise by the Saga Rose
(Bahamian-registry 24,474-gt passenger ship owned by Saga Group) to Spain's
Canary Islands after it sustained fire damage to its forward promenade deck
on 14 Dec. while in A&P Southampton Ltd.'s King George V dry dock in
Southampton, England. The ship, formerly the Sagafjord, was in the second
phase of a 15 million British pound/U.S.$25 million refit that includes
refurbishment of the cabins. About 300 shipyard workers and 350 crew were
aboard and all were evacuated safely. Seven shipyard personnel and five
firefighters were treated for smoke inhalation and one firefighter was
hospitalized with injuries while another had minor steam burns. The fire
was found at 1400 and extinguished by 2000 by more than 100 firefighters.
The 580 passengers on the cruise, which was to leave Dover, England, are
receiving a full refund and a 250 British pound/U.S.$420 payment as well as
the option of an alternative cruise.

More on Bright Field report

     The U.S. Coast Guard on 18 Dec. released its report on the allision of
the Bright Field (Liberian-registry 36,120-gt, 68,200-dwt, 23,035-nt,
224-meter/735-foot bulk carrier built in 1988 in Sasebo, Japan; owned by
Clearsky Shipping Corp. and operated by COSCO (Hong Hong) Shipping Co.
Ltd.). At 1430 14 Dec., 1996, the ship slammed into a New Orleans dock
housing a Riverwalk mall and a 16,200-square-meter/180,000-square-foot
Hilton hotel. At least 116 people were injured and the dock and some 15
shops and 456 hotel rooms were destroyed. More than 5.7 million liters/1.5
million gallons of water flooded a cargo hold aboard the Bright Field and
4.6 meters/15 feet of hull under the bow was damaged. The ship had been
sailing with 64,000 tons of corn for Kashima, Japan.

     The Bright Field was sailing with a hard right rudder and full astern
engine, which reduced water flow over the rudder, causing a hydrodynamic
stall following propulsion loss.

     According to the report, the crew failed to maintain the ship's Sulzer
6RTA62 engine. A clogged No. 2 oil filter and air in the oil, resulting in
lower pressure, caused a loss of oil pressure to the main bearings, a
"main-engine trip" and the loss of propulsion and steering. The No. 2 oil
pump had not been set for standby operation and COSCO (Hong Kong) Shipping
was cited for not providing guidance on use of the override when responding
to emergency situations. Had the pump been in standby mode, it would have
automatically started to maintain oil pressure above a set point.

     The Coast Guard report noted that an improperly calibrated oil
pressure sensor prevented the Terasaki WE3 monitoring system from issuing
an alert that oil pressure was dropping. The system's inability to record
program changes and a lack of sensor calibration records were a
contributing cause. The main engine oil sump's low level alarm was adjusted
to allow operation below the normal alarm point and the No. 2 oil filter
differential oil pressure alarm was set to activate when the pressure
reached 1.3 kilograms per square centimeter instead of 0.9 kilograms per
square centimeter.

     The master of the Bright Field did not inform the engine room of the
situation of the vessel once propulsion was lost. As a result, no effort
was made to override the scavenging air limit and increase the engine's
acceleration rate.

     COSCO (Hong Kong) Shipping also failed to maintain and test the
automation system aboard the Bright Field and instead relied on surveys by
the Det Norske Veritas, the ship's classification society. The society, in
turn, allowed the operator to continue without a maintenance and repair
program, according to the report.

     The report states that equipment was not maintained and tested and
longstanding engine problems of at least six months that resulted in the
accident were not repaired. The Coast Guard has recommended that Liberia,
as the country of registry, take action for the "negligence, misconduct and
false testimony" of the crew and suspend the licenses of the engineers
pending a revocation hearing. According to the owner and operator of the
Bright Field, they had directed the chief engineer, Liu Qing Zhu, to fix
the engine problems and replaced him soon afer the allision.

     The Coast Guard report also states that crewmembers lied to
investigators. According to the engineers, the main engine experienced an
automatic slowdown instead of a shutdown, something "not supported by the
evidence." The second mate said that the ship grounded in silt prior to
hitting the dock, which the report states "appears incorrect."

     The report also stated that there is evidence of a violation of U.S.
law, as the master failed to inform the pilot of the draft, handling
characteristics and relevant information about the Bright Field.

     Finally, the Coast Guard report also criticizes its own investigators
for not taking enough measures to preserve evidence. Apparently, some items
were tampered with, repaired or adjusted before testing by the Coast Guard
and the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board. Repairs were made to the
bridge alarm panel, likely by the Bright Field's crew, according to the
report. The Terasaki WE3's No. 1 monitor was not operating. An order has
been issued for revision of the Coast Guard's Marine Safety Manual to
emphasize the importance of securing evidence.



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