Captain’s Fatigue Led To $72.9 Million Marine Accident

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A tanker operating company’s decision to change masters without a handover period led to a $72.9 million marine accident, according to a National Transportation Safety Board Marine Accident.

Incident 

​​​On October 17, 2020, at 0446 local time, the tanker vessel with a crew of 21 was attempting to anchor in the Southwest Pass Fairway Anchorage in the Gulf of Mexico, about 21.5 miles from Pilottown, Louisiana, when it struck the manned oil and gas production platform SP-57B. 

The platform’s four crewmembers and one technician evacuated to a nearby platform by helicopter after activating the emergency shutdown device to shut in wells to the SP-57B platform. 

No pollution or injuries were reported. Estimated damages to the platform ($72.3 million) and vessel ($598,400) totaled $72.9 million.

Probable cause

The probable cause of the contact of tanker vessel with the oil and gas production platform SP-57B was the tanker’s operating company not ensuring sufficient time for the master’s turnover, which resulted in the master’s acute fatigue and poor situation awareness during an attempted nighttime anchoring evolution.​

Lessons Learned

Vessel operating companies should ensure that joining crewmembers/personnel are given the opportunity to obtain a sufficient handover period and adequate rest before taking over critical shipboard duties, such as navigation, that could impact the safety of the crew, property, and the environment.​

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Source: ntsb

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