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Bow Triumph at the Odfjell Terminal in Charleston on September 8, 2022, showing damage to the vessel’s starboard side. U.S. Coast Guard Photo

Bow Triumph at the Odfjell Terminal in Charleston on September 8, 2022, showing damage to the vessel’s starboard side. U.S. Coast Guard Photo

Pilot Error Led to Major Tanker Accident at South Carolina Naval Base

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 6136
April 30, 2024

A navigation error by a pilot led to a 600-foot-long tanker striking a pier at the Joint Base Charleston’s Naval Weapons Station in South Carolina, the National Transportation Board (NTSB) said Tuesday.

The incident occurred on September 5, 2022, when the tanker Bow Triumph collided with the Naval Weapons Station Pier B while transiting the Joint Base Charleston Channel.

The accident caused approximately $29.5 million in damages, major damage to the Bow Triumph’s bow, and a 300-foot section of the pier to collapse. Fortunately, no pollution or injuries were reported.

The Charleston Branch Pilots Association pilot was guiding the vessel as it made a series of turns in the channel. After executing a right turn onto Range D of the channel, he guided the vessel closer to the left bank in preparation for the next turn, a left one around a bend. This maneuver resulted in a phenomenon known as bank effect, which caused the ship’s bow to push away from the bank while the stern was drawn towards it.

Despite the pilot’s subsequent rudder and engine orders, the forces could not be counteracted, causing the tanker to strike the pier situated on the opposite side of the river.

The NTSB pointed out that hydrodynamic forces in shallow waters, such as channels, can reduce rudder effectiveness and create a bank effect. This can have unintended consequences on vessels, even for experienced ship handlers. The NTSB recommends that pilots, masters, and other vessel operators consider these risks in areas known for shoaling when planning transits.

In addition to this incident, the NTSB is also investigating a similar accident that occurred on January 14 involving the tanker Hafnia Amessi and Pier B after the tanker attempted the same turn at the bend. This investigation is still ongoing.

Read the report: Marine Investigation Report 24-09

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