Master’s fatigue cited in $73m tanker accident

A tanker operating company’s decision to change masters without a handover period was a factor in a $72.9 million marine accident off the coast of Louisiana, according to a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Marine Accident Brief just issued.

On October 17th 2020 crude oil tanker Atina (IMO 9593000) struck the oil and gas production platform SP-57B near Pilottown, Louisiana (IMN October 26th 2020).

USA-based offshore drilling company Cox Operating LLC USA immediately sued the Turkey-based manager of the tanker over the incident, claiming $225m compensation for serious damages sustained by platform, and for operational losses, because the platform was said to be inoperative after the accident. The defendants were Ciner Ship management, Hanzhou 1 Ltd and Atina M/V.

The Atina, with a crew of 21, was attempting to anchor in the Southwest Pass Fairway Anchorage in the Gulf of Mexico when it struck platform SP-57B. 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 to the SP-57B platform.

No pollution or injuries were reported. Estimated damages to the platform ($72.3m) and ship ($598,400) totalled $72.9m.

The NTSB said that the company did not comply with its own safety management system (SMS) in the lead up to the accident.

The master of the Atina at the time boarded the underway vessel outbound to the anchorage, only seeing the departing master on the tanker’s deck. The company placed the accident master into critical vessel evolutions, such as navigating downriver and anchoring at night, without any overlap with the departing master. This contradicted the company’s own SMS, which 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.

NTSB found that the accident master told investigators he wanted to anchor the ship as soon as possible because he was tired. The accident master had travelled from Turkey to join the vessel and told investigators he had no sleep for more than 50 hours while travelling.

The location chosen by the accident master did not follow the passage plan anchoring location. According to Atina’s passage plan, the tanker’s intended anchorage was about 3.2 miles northeast of SP-57B. The actual anchoring location was about 0.7 miles from platform SP-57B.

Investigators determined the probable cause of the contact of tanker Atina with the oil and gas production platform SP-57B 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.

NTSB concluded that 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 the crew, property, and the environment”.

Marine Accident Brief 21/24 is available online at https://www.ntsb.gov/investigations/Pages/DCA21FM004.aspx

https://www.ntsb.gov/investigations/AccidentReports/Reports/MAB2124.pdf

At the time of the incident 2015-built, Malta-flagged, 83,377 gt Atina was owned by Hanzhou 1 Ltd care of manager Ciner Ship Management of Istanbul, Turkey. ISM manager is Besiktas Likid Tasimacilik of Istanbul, Turkey. It was entered with Standard Club (International Division) on behalf of Hanzhou 1 Ltd. Same details apply today.