An investigation into a sea vessel collision, which caused more than $6 million in damages, has determined the accident was caused by some untimely maintenance and lack of a proper lookout.
The National Transportation Safety Board this week revealed its findings after looking into the 2022 collision involving a containership and a fishing vessel. In October of that year, the MSC Rita was traveling southbound in the Atlantic when the Tremont slammed into it. The resulting damage to the Tremont’s hull caused the fishing vessel to sink. There were no injuries involved but the 13 people on board were forced to abandon ship. They were rescued by good samaritan ships and a Coast Guard helicopter.
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The NTSB pinned the blame for the collision on the Tremont after one of the ship’s mates told the agency he was attempting to fix the gyrocompass while the autopilot was engaged. The autopilot relies on heading information from the gyrocompass, so adjusting it while underway caused the Tremont to make an erratic turn into the side of the MSC Rita.
The report said the mishap boils down to simultaneous operations, which can sometimes interfere with each other. The NTSB said, “Managing simultaneous operations is an essential element of safety management and safe vessel operation. Before beginning work, mariners should identify hazards associated with working on one piece of equipment that may affect another, such as sensors feeding information to other equipment, and manage those risks to avoid unsafe conditions.”
The Tremont was also chastised for using an out-of-date VHF system to signal for help. The NTSB said modern VHF systems have digital selective calling, which alerts search and rescue authorities and nearby vessels, and automatically provides the vessel’s position, with the push of a button.
As highlighted by the containership Ever Given running aground and blocking the Suez Canal in 2021, maritime accidents can have significant negative impacts on global supply chains.