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Houston, TX - Collision Between the Elka Apollon and the MSC Nederland in the Houston Ship Channel - Animation
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Houston, TX - Collision Between the Elka Apollon and the MSC Nederland in the Houston Ship Channel - Animation
Washington, DC
9/25/2012 12:00 AM

Track Path Animation - Collision Involving the Tankship Elka Apollon and the Containership MSC Nederland Houston Ship Channel

Upper Galveston Bay, Texas
October 29, 2011
DCA12FM002

Animation 

This two-dimensional animation depicts the sequence of events in which the tankship Elka Apollon collided with the containership MSC Nederland. The accident occurred at approximately 09:05:26 Central Standard Time on October 29, 2011 in the Houston Ship Channel, Upper Galveston Bay, Texas.

The animation displays the positions and track paths of the Elka Apollon and MSC Nederland, along with three towboats pushing barges: Mr. Earl, Uncle Nu and Paddy. Investigators retrieved the Voyage Data Recorders from both the Elka Apollon, and MSC Nederland, as well as Automatic Identification System data recorded by the Coast Guard.

Rudder angle and heading information from the Voyage Data Recorder of the Elka Apollon are displayed during the animation with the local time. The recorded data for the Elka Apollon and the MSC Nederland included both position and heading information, but only position data was available for towboats Mr. Earl, Uncle Nu and Paddy. As a result, the heading of each towboat shown in the animation was calculated as the tangent to its position data as a function of time.

Selected comments of the Bridge Audio from the Voyage Data Recorder of the Elka Apollon, MSC Nederland, and Ship-to-Ship VHF Communications are displayed as text at the time they occurred. Weather and visibility conditions at the time of the accident are not shown. This animation contains audio narration.

The display on the left hand side of the screen depicts the Houston Ship Channel in the Upper Galveston Bay with southbound tankship Elka Apollon, tows and barges Mr. Earl, Paddy and Uncle Nu, and northbound containership MSC Nederland. The track paths of the Elka Apollon, Mr. Earl and MSC Nederland are also displayed. The right hand side of the screen is split; the top portion includes the rudder angle indicator and the gyro compass heading of the Elka Apollon and the local time, and the bottom portion includes the selected comments from the Bridge Audio from the Voyage Data Recorder for the Elka Apollon, Ship-to Ship VHF Communications and the Bridge Audio from the Voyage Data Recorder for MSC Nederland.

The animation begins with an explanation of the locations and directions of the five vessels and the layout of the screen in a still image. The animation starts at time 09:02:10 and runs in real time until the collision occurs at 09:05:26.

Voice Over Narration:

1. The display on the left hand side of the screen depicts southbound Elka Apollon, northbound MSC Nederland, towboat Mr. Earl and their respective track paths in the water way.

2. The right hand side of the screen shows the rudder angle indicator and gyro compass heading on the bridge of the Elka Apollon with the local time, and selected comments of the Bridge Audio from the Voyage Data Recorder.

3. The pilots on the Elka Apollon and the MSC Nederland had agreed to pass one another in the vicinity of a small bend in the channel located at navigation beacons 75 and 76.

4. The two small vessels at beacon 75 are the tow boats, Paddy and Uncle Nu underway in the southbound barge lane with truncated track paths.

5. As the animation begins, at 9:02:10, the Elka Apollon is positioned more than half way through the flare when the conning pilot ordered the rudder to starboard 20 in preparation for meeting the MSC Nederland.

6. Fifteen seconds later, the conning pilot ordered the rudder to midship, then port twenty, and then hard to port, with each command about 10 seconds apart.

7. At this time, the pilot eased the rudder to port twenty.

8. The conning pilot on the Elka Apollon next contacted the two south-bound tows ahead of his vessel in the barge channel, which he planned to overtake and pass on the tanker's starboard side.

9. After concluding the radio call to the tows and with the rudder still at port twenty, the conning pilot on the Elka Apollon called the towboat Mr. Earl, which was approaching the southbound barge lane on the tanker's starboard side.

10. The conning pilot stated "Mr. Earl don't squeeze over here. my stern's getting ready to come your direction."

11. The captain of the Mr. Earl replied "right yeah squeezing over."

12. The conning pilot next ordered the rudder to midship and then to starboard twenty.

13. When the starboard twenty was ordered, the non-conning pilot who had remained on the bridge noted the Mr. Earl's approach to the conning pilot.

14. At this time, the conning pilot ordered the wheel hard to starboard.

15. Over the radio the captain of the Mr. Earl also stated his concern about the close proximity of the two vessels.

16. The conning pilot on the Elka Apollon radioed the pilot on the MSC Nederland requesting he increase engine speed and warned him of the tanker's approach.

17. The recorded position data of the tow boat Mr. Earl ended at this time.

18. The conning pilot on the Elka Apollon ordered the engine to emergency full ahead, with the rudder already hard to starboard in an effort to swing the tanker's bow to the right and away from the containership.

19. The pilot on the MSC Nederland also ordered the engine to full ahead and the rudder hard to port in an effort to swing his ship away from the approaching bow of the tanker.

20. However, at 9:05:26 the port bow of the tanker Elka Apollon struck the port side of the container ship MSC Nederland.

Excerpts from the Bridge Voice Recorder:
09:02:10 Elka Apollon CP starboard twenty.
09:02:25 Elka Apollon CP midship.
09:02:37 Elka Apollon CP port twenty.
09:02:46 Elka Apollon CP hard port.
09:02:54 Elka Apollon CP port twenty.
09:03:14 Ship-to Ship CP hey uh come in Paddy Cenac.
09:03:17 Ship-to Ship PADDY Paddy.
09:03:19 Ship-to Ship CP hey Paddy be alright to slip by on two?
09:03:20 Ship-to Ship PADDY yeah bring it on.
09:03:23 Ship-to Ship CP alright appreciate it. Uncle Nu? Can I get by you on two?
09:03:28 Ship-to Ship NU yeah roger on two.
09:03:31 Ship-to Ship CP * appreciate it.
09:03:39 Elka Apollon CP roger he's still coming in to it.
09:03:41 Ship-to Ship CP Mr. Earl don't squeeze over here. I'm getting ready to- my stern's getting ready to come your direction.
09:03:48 Ship-to Ship EARL right yeah squeezing over.
09:03:54 Elka Apollon CP midship.
09:04:02 Elka Apollon CP starboard twenty.
09:04:04 Elka Apollon NCP I don't know what he's thinking @ [first name].
09:04:06 Elka Apollon CP hard starboard.
09:04:13 Elka Apollon NCP way over here.
09:04:14 Elka Apollon CP I know it.
09:04:16 Ship-to Ship EARL yeah ship ahh we're not looking to good there buddy.
09:04:16 Elka Apollon CP # getting ready to hit us.
09:04:23 Ship-to Ship CP I don't know why you come over here with me. **.
09:04:23 Elka Apollon NCP I can't look through the doors.
09:04:28 Ship-to Ship CP hey @ [first name] can you kick up *. Getting ready to come at you.
09:04:34 MSC Nederland PILOT slow ahead.
09:04:36 MSC Nederland PILOT midship.
09:04:36 Elka Apollon NCP I don't (think/know) if you ever touched or not.
09:04:38 MSC Nederland PILOT half ahead.
09:04:38 Elka Apollon CP give me emergency full ahead quick.
09:04:40 Elka Apollon CAPT emergency full ahead.
09:04:43 MSC Nederland PILOT full ahead.
09:04:47 Elka Apollon CP not good.
09:04:49 Elka Apollon CAPT full ahead emergency.
09:04:50 MSC Nederland CAPT full ahead.
09:04:55 MSC Nederland PILOT hard to port.
09:04:58 MSC Nederland PILOT full ahead emergency sea speed.
09:04:59 Elka Apollon CP *board anchor. Drop the starboard anchor.
09:05:01 Elka Apollon CAPT starboard anchor go*.
09:05:03 MSC Nederland CAPT full emergency power * power *.
09:05:08 MSC Nederland PILOT sound collision sound collision.
09:05:25 MSC Nederland [sound of scraping]



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