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Marine Accidents !

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Old 09-24-2010, 09:30 AM
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: I presenbtly live in Covington , LA.
Posts: 673
Default Marine Accidents !

Greetings From New Orleans ,
To the best of my recollection there has been very little attention paid to one aspect of the marine industry at this web site and that is of marine accidents . Through out my career in the marine industry I have been either personally involved with or have witnessed marine accidents and although much has already been written about such events there is always something intriguing about them that has always interested me .
I've witnessed accidents when I worked on the steam boats , when I worked on the tow boats and especially now when I am working on the ships .
Countless books have been written about marine accidents , courses are given on how to prevent accidents , the Coast Guard has implemented rules and regulations to prevent them , companies have initiated their own rules and regulations to prevent them and yet they still occur .
I even teach a course at MPI , on Safety and Risk Assessment , and have studied a number of classic accidents in the marine industry and have come to the conclusion there are usually a number of variables that come into play and how we as professional pilots can first of all recognize them and then more importantly take the necessary steps to deal with them .
We as NOBRA Pilots are very pro active with our continuing education program and we train so we will be able to step up the plate and make and take the right decision and action to deal with an impending accident ! Some once said , " If you think safety is expensive , try having an accident " ! No , truer words were ever spoken and this is just another aspect of the role of the Pilot !
The question that I have always pondered is whether accidents will ever be prevented all together ?? My eventual answer is simply NO due to both the human factor and due to mechanical issues that have and will continue to occur . Consequently , and in my opinion , if we will never stop an accident from occurring , we must simply learn how to remediate the incident and to minimize the potential damage that is about to occur !
One aspect of the role of a Pilot , is a Risk Assessor ! From his skill and experience he has to be the one to step up the plate look the situation over and make the decisions on what to do , how to do it and when to do it !
Yesterday , on a ship I was personally involved in and witnessed another marine accident .
Yesterday , I was on an empty grain ship and when approaching the grain elevator a series of events occurred that were totally out of my control , but I had to make and take the split second decisions and actions to either stop the accident from occurring or to at least minimize the damage that was about to happen . I will always remember that there are those in the local New Orleans , marine industry that think of and refer to Pilots as , " Overpaid and glorified bus drivers " , but believe me a bus driver will not be found on an out of control ship !
First of all , the ship I was on when we approached the dock lost her engine .
Secondly , the bow tug's radio failed while the tug was pushing in on a Slow Bell .
Thirdly , after getting the tug Captains attention by rapidly blowing the ship's whistle , he went to his back up radio and dutifully answered my commands .
Fourthly , when he went astern on his engines to check the inbound swing of the bow of the ship into the grain elevator , his tug's line broke !
To further complicate the situation there was a hard on shore wind and we simply ran out of time and space to rectify the situation .
I was able to drop the ship's port anchor and to steer the ship to port and to hopefully land the ship flat along side the grain elevator's fender system .
Unfortunately there was some damage done to the elevator's forward fender system but more importantly there was no damage to the ship , there was no pollution and most important of all there was no loss of life !
For those of us that actually work in the marine industry , regardless of what capacity we serve in and on every type of vessel , we have all witnessed the events that have led up to an accident and then have attempted to come up with both appropriate and timely solutions and actions to prevent such accidents . Having said that , as I said before , I don't believe that we will ever totally prevent accidents from occurring !
There are also a number of " River Expressions " , that come with marine accidents ranging from , " Well , thats why they have ship yards " to
" Well , s_ _t happens " !!
As Pilots , none of us are " Bullet Proof " and sooner or latter , we will all be faced with situations and delimas that will not only put ourselves and others in harms way but will require us to make and take the right decisions and then be judged by others that are not pilots on whether or not we did and
performe as they think we should have on that day , in that situation and at that moment in time !
Welcome to our world as Pilots !
Smooth Sailing !
Ted Davisson
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