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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation M-98-010
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 BOARD OF COMMISSIONNERS OF THE PORT OF NEW ORLEANS: IN COOPERATION WITH THE USCG, REASSESS THE RISK OF LOCATING PASSENGER VESSELS ALONG THE LEFT DESCENDING BANK OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER AND DETERMINE WHETHER TO REMOVE THE VESSELS TO A LESS VULNERABLE LOCATION OR PUT IN PLACE PROCEDURAL, OPERATIONAL, OR PHYSICAL BARRIERS THAT WILL PROTECT THESE VESSELS FROM RAMMING BY RIVERBORN TRAFFIC.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Acceptable 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: 4/15/2004
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: Board of River Port Pilot Commissioners for the Port of New Orleans (Closed - Acceptable Action)
Keyword(s):

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: Board of River Port Pilot Commissioners for the Port of New Orleans
Date: 4/15/2004
Response: On January 11, 2000, based on initiatives outlined in the Board of Commissioners' May 28, 1998, letter, Safety Recommendations M-98-9, -10, and -12 were classified "Open--Acceptable Response," pending an update on the initiatives from the commissioners. In the Safety Board's letter, Safety Recommendation M-98-11 was classified "Open-Unacceptable Response," pending the commissioners' reconsideration of their initial response and action to implement the recommendation. Because the Board had not received any further response from the Board of Commissioners, on October 10, 2001, the Safety Board requested further information on action taken or being taken to implement Safety Recommendations M-98-9 through -12. Companion recommendations M-98-1, -2 and -4 (corresponding to M-98-10, -11, and -12) were issued to the U.S. Coast Guard, also as a result of the Bright Field report. On June 11, 2002, in consideration of the Coast Guard's efforts to work with the Board of Commissioners and other stakeholders, Safety Recommendation M-98-1 was classified "Closed--Acceptable Action." Accordingly, Safety Recommendation M-98-10 is also classified "Closed--Acceptable Action." On October 22, 2001, in response to the Coast Guard's April 3, 2001, letter, Safety Recommendations M-98-2 and -4 were classified "Closed--Unacceptable Action," because the Coast Guard, the lead agency, maintained that a comprehensive research study would be necessary to adequately address all of the complex issues associated with the recommendations and stated that it did not have the resources to pursue such a study. Because the Board of Commissioners has not provided any information since its May 28, 1998, letter, in which it disagreed with the Safety Board's recommendation, Safety Recommendation M-98-11 is classified "Closed--Unacceptable Action." Because the Coast Guard, the lead Federal agency responsible for instituting safety measures in the port, has decided to take no further action to institute risk-mitigation initiatives, Safety Recommendation M-98-12 is classified "Closed--No Longer Applicable." The Safety Board remains interested in receiving an update on the implementation of Safety Recommendation M-98-9. Although three recommendations are being closed, the risk of Bright Field-type accidents has not diminished in the Port of New Orleans. The Bright Field accident occurred in December 1996. On October 24, 2002, another accident occurred when the inbound tanker Chilbar lost steering as it approached the New Orleans Riverwalk area but veered aside, making light contact with the dock. The Safety Board cautions that the next Bright Field-type accident has the potential to cause catastrophic consequences for the Port of New Orleans.

From: NTSB
To: Board of River Port Pilot Commissioners for the Port of New Orleans
Date: 10/10/2001
Response: To date, the Safety Board has not received any further response from the Board of Commissioners and would appreciate being informed about the efforts that have been made or are being made to implement Safety Recommendations M-98-9 through -12. Please address your response to Ms. Marion C. Blakey, Chairman, National Transportation Safety Board, and refer to the recommendations by number. Copies of our correspondence regarding these recommendations are enclosed.

From: NTSB
To: Board of River Port Pilot Commissioners for the Port of New Orleans
Date: 1/11/2000
Response: THE SAFETY BOARD NOTES THAT THE BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS AND THE COAST GUARD HAVE INITIATED A REVIEW OF PASSENGER VESSEL MOORING LOCATIONS ALONG THE LEFT DESCENDING BANK. THE SAFETY BOARD UNDERSTANDS FROM THE COAST GUARD'S 6/5/98, LETTER THAT THE BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS, WITH THE COAST GUARD AND THE U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS, IS USING STUDIES, CASUALTY DATA, AND LOCAL EXPERTISE IN ASSESSING THE RISKS ASSCIATED WITH VARIOUS LOCATIONS, IS CONSIDERING AS A RISK FACTOR THE LOCATION OF EACH MOORING RELATIVE TO PHYSICAL AND OPERATIONAL HAZARDS, AND IS REVIEWING PROCEDURAL, OPERATIONAL, AND PHYSICAL FACTORS THAT MAY IMPROVE THE SAFETY OF SPECIFIC MOORINGS. IN ADDITION, THE TEAM IS CONSIDERING THE EXPANSION OF THE AREA COVERED BY VESSEL TRAFFIC LIGHTS, A CHANGE THAT MIGHT RESULT IN A BETTER QUEUE OF TRAFFIC BEFORE THE TRAFFIC ARRIVES AT THE CRITICAL AREA OF THE RIVER NEAR ALGIERS POINT. IN VIEW OF THE BRIGHT FIELD ACCIDENT, THE SAFETY BOARD ENCOURAGES THE BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS TO CONTINUE TO LOOK AT THE RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH MARINE OPERATIONS IN THIS AREA AND WORK TOWARD REDUCING THOSE RISKS. PREVIOUS MAY NOT HAVE ADEQUATELY ANTICIPATED AN INCIDENT SUCH AS THE BRIGHT FIELD ALLISION. PENDING FURTHER REPLY FROM THE BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS ON THE STATUS OF ITS INITIATIVES, M-98-10 HAS BEEN CLASSIFIED "OPEN--ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE."

From: Board of River Port Pilot Commissioners for the Port of New Orleans
To: NTSB
Date: 11/6/1998
Response: Mistaken entry. Letter related to other recommendations.

From: Board of River Port Pilot Commissioners for the Port of New Orleans
To: NTSB
Date: 5/28/1998
Response: Letter Mail Controlled 6/4/98 12:41:23 PM MC# 980711 OUR PRIOR RISK ASSESSMENT STUDIES UNEQUIVOCALLY CONCLUDE THAT THE POYDRAS, JULIA AND ERATO STREET WHARVES ARE THE SAFEST FACILITIES IN THE PORT OF NEW ORLEANS WITH RESPECT TO VESSEL ALLISIONS, EVEN CONSIDERING THE BRIGHT FIELD ACCIDENT. THERE IS NO LESS VULNERABLE LOCATION IN THE PORT. PHYSICAL BARRIERS TO PROTECT CRUISE SHIPS FROM RAMMING BY PASSING TRAFFIC ARE OPERATIONALLY IMPRACTICAL, ARE OF UNCERTAIN VALUE FOR THEIR INTENDED PURPOSE AND CREATE ADDITIONAL NAVIGATIONAL HAZARDS BY PLACING STRUCTURES MUCH CLOSER TO THE NAVIGATION CHANNEL. ESTABLISHING NAVIGATION PROCEDURES AND OPERATIONAL RESTRICTIONS TO LOWER RISK PROFILES IS AN EXCELLENT SUGGESTION, ONE THAT WAS HIGHLIGHTED IN OUR RISK ASSESSMENT STUDIES, AND ONE THE COAST GUARD HAS ACTED ON VIGOROUSLY. WE CONTINUE TO WORK WITH THE COAST GUARD TO REFINE THESE PROCEDURES. WE HAVE ALSO SOLICITED SUGGESTIONS REGARDING SAFETY IN THE PORT FROM THE MAJOR CRUISE LINES. TO DATE, WE HAVE RECEIVED NO EXPRESSIONS OF CONCERN OR SUGGESTIONS FOR IMPROVEMENT.