Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Loss of the Baltic Ace

The shipping media is reporting the tragic loss of the PCCT 'Baltic Ace' off Rotterdam, in which 11 of her crew lost their lives. What was notable about the collision and sinking was the huge loss of life - almost half the crew. In 2012, sinkings are usually a relatively drawn out affair with the crew able to abandon ship in lifeboats or liferafts. 'Baltic Ace' is reported to have sunk within 15 minutes of the collision.

m/v Baltic Ace (photo: www.FleetMon.com)
The website 'VesselFinder.com' has uploaded a video of Baltic Ace AIS data, showing 'Baltic Ace' as the 'stand on vessel' and 'Corvus J as being the 'giveway vessel'. 'Corvus J' alters course to starboard to pass astern of 'Baltic Ace', but then 'Baltic Ace' appears to alter course to port whereby 'Corvus J' hits 'Baltic Ace' in her starboard side. AM can't attributed any blame to either vessel - this is just what the Collision Regulations state for crossing vessels.

gCaptain is also reporting daily on the casualty and have photos of damage to 'Corvus J's bulbous bow after the collision. 'Baltic Ace lies on her side in 36 metres of water (her beam is 25 metres), salvors have been appointed to remove her bunkers and a diver's search for the bodies of the missing crew is underway.

The result of the collision is eerily similar to the loss of Wilhelmsen's 'Tricolor'Pure Car and Truck Carriers are essentially floating car parks, designed with as many large area decks and as few watertight bulkheads as can be allowed under Class Rules. Combined with high freeboard and a tender stability, water in the wrong places has rapid and dramatic consequences.

The fact that the collision lead to rapid flooding and loss of stability in a modern, 2007-built vessel will hopefully spur the IMO and Classification Societies to review why PCCT's have such relatively poor survivability. The crews of bulk carriers and Roll on/Roll off ferries have all benefited (eventually) from design changes after high profile casualties with large losses of life.

The Antipodean Mariner

1 comment:

  1. Baltic Ace had 1300 mm void tanks on the sides and no watertight decks below the main deck. No wonder that the ship capsized and sank so quickly after the collision.