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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation M-98-003
Details
Synopsis: SHORTLY AFTER 1400 ON 12/14/96, THE FULLY LOADED LIBERIAN BULK CARRIER BRIGHT FIELD TEMPORARILY LOST PROPULSION POWER AS THE VESSEL WAS NAVIGATING OUTBOUND IN THE LOWER MISSISSIPPI RIVER AT NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA. THE VESSEL STRUCK A WHARF ADJACENT TO A POPULATED COMMERCIAL AREA THAT INCLUDED A SHOPPING MALL, A CONDOMINIUM PARKING GARAGE, AND A HOTEL. NO FATALITIES RESULTED FROM THE ACCIDENT, AND NO ONE ABOARD THE BRIGHT FIELD WAS INJURED; HOWEVER, 4 SERIOUS INJURIES AND 58 MINOR INJURIES WERE SUSTAINED DURING EVACUATIONS OF SHORE FACILITIES, A GAMING VESSEL, AND AN EXCURSION VESSEL LOCATED NEAR THE IMPACT AREA. TOTAL PROPERTY DAMAGES TO THE BRIGHT FIELD AND TO SHORESIDE FACILITIES WERE ESTIMATED AT ABOUT $20 MILLION.
Recommendation: THE NTSB RECOMMENDS THAT THE USCG : TAKE THE LEAD IN WORKING WITH THE PILOT ASSOCIATIONS SERVING THE PORT OF NEW ORLEANS TO EVALUATE THE IMPACT OF OPERATING VESSELS AT FULL SPEED IN THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER AND INCORPORATE THAT INFORMATION IN YOUR RISK-MANAGEMENT AND RISK-REDUCTION STRATEGIES FOR THE PORT AREA.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Acceptable Alternate Action
Mode: Marine
Location: Lower Mississippi River, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: DCA97MM014
Accident Reports:
Allision of the Liberian Freighter Bright Field with the Poydras Street Wharf, Riverwalk Marketplace and New Orleans Hilton Hotel
Report #: MAR-98-01
Accident Date: 12/14/1996
Issue Date: 2/6/1998
Date Closed: 3/5/2004
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: USCG (Closed - Acceptable Alternate Action)
Keyword(s):

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: USCG
Date: 3/5/2004
Response: The Safety Board is pleased that the Coast Guard has evaluated speed in subsequent accidents and determined there is no definitive statistical link. Since vessel power and steering casualties continue to be among the Coast Guard's greatest safety concerns in the port area, the Board is pleased that the Coast Guard actively encourages open dialogue, meets often with the port pilot associations to address numerous safety issues; and has made assurances that appropriate speed of vessel transits has been and will continue to be incorporated in future meetings and discussions. Some of the more noteworthy port safety improvements since the Bright Field accident that provide an alternative method of achieving the goals of the recommendation, include the following: · Reestablishment of the vessel traffic service (VTS) that controls river traffic and monitors vessel movements with radar; visual and video observation. · Implementation of mandatory VHF radio communications; employment of traffic control lights, during elevated river stages to further minimize risk in the port area. · Establishment of the River Alert Network, a communication system for instant notification of an emergency to port users. · Anticipated integration, within the next year, of VTS-expanded coverage and control of traffic from beyond the sea buoys to Baton Rouge with automatic identification system (AIS) technology, a measure that will further enhance the safety of maritime commerce in the port area. Because of the numerous safety improvements that have been implemented in the Port of New Orleans since the Bright Field accident, Safety Recommendation M-98-3 is classified "Closed--Acceptable Alternate Action."

From: USCG
To: NTSB
Date: 11/21/2003
Response: Letter Mail Controlled 11/24/2003 11:46:52 AM MC# 2030571 The Port of New Orleans is currently subject to a Vessel Traffic Service that controls river traffic and monitors vessel movements with radar, visual and video observation, and mandatory VHF radio communications. During elevated river stages, traffic control lights are employed to further minimize risk in the port area. This real-time surveillance and communication provides for instant notification of an emergency via the River Alert Network. Within the next year, the VTS is expected to integrate expanded coverage and control of traffic from beyond the sea buoys to Baton Rouge with automatic identification system (AIS) technology. This will further enhance the safety of maritime commerce in the port area. Although vessel power and steering casualties continue to be among our greatest safety concerns in the port area, we have been unable to establish a definitive statistical link indicating excessive speed to be a causal or contributing factor when these incidents result in a subsequent casualty. The appropriate speed for deep-draft transit is ultimately a subjective decision based on prevailing conditions, river traffic, vessel maneuvering characteristics, and the judgment and experience of the pilot and Master. We encourage open dialogue and often meet with the pilot associations serving the port area to address numerous safety issues, and appropriate speed of vessel transits will continue to be incorporated in future meetings and discussions. We consider our action on this recommendation complete and request that it be closed.

From: NTSB
To: USCG
Date: 1/16/2003
Response: In 1998, the Coast Guard indicated that it partially concurred with the recommendation, noting that navigating a large vessel down the Mississippi River may present higher risks at slower speeds. The Coast Guard's response to Safety Recommendation M-98-3 in June 2001 states that vessel speed in the Port of New Orleans is difficult to evaluate because vessels must make a certain speed during various river stages to maintain steerage on the river. It further states that it has established a vessel traffic service (VTS) that is operated jointly with the pilots of the Port of New Orleans and that VTS, along with pilot advisors, can better evaluate vessel speed and risks associated with vessel traffic around Algiers Point. The Safety Board notes that at the same time the Coast Guard expressed a reluctance to take action on some risk assessments of the Port of New Orleans, the agency began a number of risk reduction initiatives. The Coast Guard's fiscal year 2001-2005 Marine Safety Business Plan identifies field-level core strategies for preventing marine accidents through the use of risk management, Prevention Through People, and partnerships. Recent issues of Proceedings of the Merchant Marine Safety Council highlight numerous instances where the Coast Guard and port stakeholders have worked together to identify, assess, and introduce plans to mitigate port-specific risks. During a recent workshop, the Coast Guard, the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers, the U.S. Maritime Administration, the U.S. Naval Academy, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the American Pilots Association partnered with other waterway stakeholders to review channel design and ship controllability. The July-September 2001 issue of Proceedings discusses partnerships with the American Waterway Operators, including the formation of a Mississippi River Crisis Action Plan that sets response actions by all stakeholders during periods of flooding. The Safety Board believes that the Coast Guard can and should extend the successful partnership process that the agency has developed in other ports toward establishing partnerships aimed at identifying risk strategies for the Port of New Orleans. Coast Guard records indicate that an average of about 350 incidents from steering failures and power losses occur annually in the Coast Guard's New Orleans zone. Most recently, on May 12, 2002, another Liberian tank vessel, the Velebit, lost control in the port and rammed a dock and the freight vessel M/V Montana Star. Fortunately, no injuries occurred; however, the estimated property damage from the accident exceeded $1 million. More importantly, the consequences in this accident could have been much more serious. The risks to people and property associated with relatively high-speed river navigation, high-river stage and rapid current, and the carriage of cargoes such as bulk oil or other hazardous materials or chemicals that can cause pollution, fire, or explosion are significant. These risks need to be assessed and mitigated. At least one New Orleans pilot organization has indicated a willingness to work with the Coast Guard on port safety issues. The Crescent River Port Pilots Association participates in the quarterly meetings of the Port Safety Council, which is hosted by the Coast Guard. The forum allows for an exchange between industry and the Coast Guard regarding safety concerns involving navigation safety. The Crescent River Port Pilots Association has advised the Safety Board that there is and continues to be an open line between the New Orleans pilots, the industry, and the Coast Guard. It would seem logical that all prudent stakeholders in the Port of New Orleans would be willing to work with the Coast Guard to minimize risk to the area. The Safety Board is convinced that, with its established business plan, partnerships, and workshops, the Coast Guard possesses viable mechanisms for achieving this objective. The Board looks forward to receiving information about a collaborative effort between the Coast Guard and the New Orleans pilot organizations to evaluate safe vessel speeds and safety measures for the port. Pending further response from the Coast Guard on this recommended action, Safety Recommendation M-98-3 is classified "Open--Acceptable Response." Further, should the Coast Guard advise the Board in the near future that it has decided to work with other stakeholders in the Port of New Orleans to identify risk reduction strategies for the waterway, the Board would be pleased to reconsider the classifications of Safety Recommendations M-98-2 and M-98-4.

From: NTSB
To: USCG
Date: 6/11/2002
Response:

From: USCG
To: NTSB
Date: 6/13/2001
Response: Letter Mail Controlled 06/15/2001 4:45:52 PM MC# 2010505 Memo hand delivered by Doug Rabe: The Coast Guard wrote: Vessel speed in the Port of New Orleans is difficult to evaluate. Vessels must make a certain speed during certain river stages to navigate around Algiers Point. MSO New Orleans is currently implementing a new Automated Identification System (AIS) based VTS. VTS LMR will assist with traffic management around Algiers Point and provide a redundant layer of safety in the Port of New Orleans.

From: NTSB
To: USCG
Date: 3/6/2001
Response: The Safety Board is continuing to review its safety recommendation files to identify recommendations for which there has been no correspondence for an extended period of time. Our review indicates that currently, 79 safety recommendations that have been issued to the Coast Guard are being held in an "Open" status; no information was provided in the Coast Guard’s July 31, 2000, letter regarding these recommendations. In some cases, action on these 78 recommendations has not been reported for some time; for recommendations issued in 2000, there has been no response at all to the original recommendation letter. Enclosed is a list of these safety recommendations.

From: NTSB
To: USCG
Date: 1/4/2000
Response: While the Coast Guard believes it does not have the resources to accomplish this evaluation, the Safety Board believes the risk to public safety warrants an effort to obtain the necessary resources or redirect existing resources. Under the Ports and Waterways Safety Act of 1972, the Congress clearly intended the Coast Guard to assess risks and take measures to maintain safety on public waterways. Pending further response from the Coast Guard, M-98-3 has been classified "Open--Unacceptable Response."

From: NTSB
To: USCG
Date: 7/14/1998
Response: NTSB REQUESTED FOLLOWUP.

From: USCG
To: NTSB
Date: 6/5/1998
Response: Letter Mail Controlled 6/10/98 3:03:32 PM MC# 980748 We partially concur with this recommendation. Navigating a large vessel down-bound in the Mississippi River may in fact present higher risks at slower speeds. A wide range of constantly changing forces, including lateral forces caused by eddies and wind, act upon a down-bound vessel. The need to maintain effective steering by maintaining to flow of water over the rudder is a critical factor in determing the appropriate speed of a down-bound vessel. A typical belief of the pilots operating on the Mississippi River is that maintaining maneuvering sea speed, with additional power kept in reserve to answer when required, is essential to vessel safety in most conditions, particularly when down-bound. While we respect the skill and professionalism of the pilots, we also feel that the pilots may not have all of the technical expertise necessary to conduct an adequate technical assessment of operating many different vessels at reduced speeds in various river conditions. The variety of sizes and configurations of deep-draft vessels operating on the Mississippi River makes it extremely difficult to develop a universal guideline or standard that is applicable under all circumstances. We believe that a comprehensive research study would be necessary to adequately address all of the complex issues associated with this recommendation. The Coast Guard does not have the resources to pursue such a research study alone. We will discuss this recommendation with the appropriate stakeholders and will inform the Board of our intended actions.