NTSB Issues Report on Collision involving Two Cargo Shops in Sabine Pass

by | Aug 5, 2023 | Maritime Law, Offshore accidents

The National Transportation Safety Board has released its report on the August 21, 2022 collision between two cargo ships, the Damgracht and the AP Revelin.  At the time, the Damgracht was in the Sabine Pass Outer Bar Channel en route to Beaumont, Texas.  The AP Revelin was outbound in the Channel.  The two cargo ships collided near Port Arthur, Texas.  The NTSB’s report describes sequence of events leading to the collision:

On August 19, 2022, after unloading a portion of its cargo, the Damgracht departed Houston, Texas, en route to Beaumont, Texas, to offload the remainder of its cargo of bags of cement and spare parts for a power plant. About 1535 on August 20, when the vessel reached the sea buoy in the Sabine Bank Channel, a Sabine Pass pilot boarded the vessel to maneuver it into the port of Beaumont.

About an hour later, about 1624, the Damgracht was near buoy 29 of Sabine Bank Channel when the engine crew received a “main engine low cooling water pressure” alarm and a “high cooling water temperature” alarm. The crew reduced load on the engine, but the cooling water temperature continued to increase, and the alarm persisted, resulting in an automatic emergency shutdown of the engine when the cooling water reached the high alarm limit of 110°C (230°F). The captain stated that they used the “momentum of the ship to steer it out of the channel,” and the crew anchored the vessel near buoy 29. About an hour later, tugboats arrived and towed the Damgracht to a fairway anchorage to the east of the Sabine Bank Channel (the pilot left the vessel later that evening).

Later in the day, a pilot boarded the AP Revelin, and began to take the vessel into the Channel.  During this process, the two vessels collided.

The probable case was found to be:

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the collision between the cargo vessel Damgracht and the cargo vessel AP Revelin was the Damgracht’s loss of propulsion caused by an automatic shutdown of the main engine due to a false alarm, likely triggered by water vapor sensed by the oil mist detector shortly after engine maintenance was completed to replace a failed cylinder head gasket during high-humidity conditions.

The report also documents lessons that can be learned from the incident, to hopefully prevent others from occurring:

Oil Mist Detector Precautions After Engine Maintenance
When certain engine components, such as cylinder head gaskets, fail, cooling water can be introduced into engine lube oil systems. Ambient air conditions, such as high humidity or extreme cold temperatures, can also increase the water content within engine lube oil sumps. The elevated quantity of water in lube oil systems can trigger false alarms in engine crankcase oil mist detectors (and lead to an engine shutdown) due to water droplets passing through the measuring track or the filter glass detecting condensation (mistaking it for oil mist). After an engine’s crankcase is opened and exposed to these conditions during maintenance and repair, it is good practice for engine crews to inspect and test the lubricating oil system for water intrusion and ensure lube oil purifying equipment is functioning properly to remove any water or other contamination in the lube oil.

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