Clearance above AND below. 2 maritime accidents compared. - SailNet Community

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Old 02-03-2012
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Clearance above AND below. 2 maritime accidents compared.

Since it is nearly the dead of winter in the northern hemisphere and there is little better to do then be an armchair or internet sailor until it thaws (still waiting for the deep freeze in NY) I'm going to give a pop quiz. You just have to check 2 links on maritime disasters and try to identify some common causality between the two very different mishaps. Both are very recent. One has been international news since it happened and another was on US inland waters.
This one you can scan through to get the drift but you must figure out why or how the captain and pilot used the channel they did to get under the bridge. You are going to have to scroll down a bit to see the pictures and description: 2012nightmare_Delta_mariner.html

This accident you will recognize but I think that the assessment of the author is quite interesting (few pictures so this one deserves actually reading it): 2012 Nightmare:Allision of M/V Delta Mariner

Sure, the death totals and total damage in each case was different but one of the root causes of each of these accidents was the same.
Name that cause? - for 1 point.
The author of the text in my second link makes an interesting statement: "The casualty occurring despite the availability of technologically advanced navigational equipment is likely to precipitate further discussion and argument whether such equipment de-skills traditional navigational knowledge and practice, a corollary to the general belief that mariners are allowing technology to do their thinking."
He used the word "de-skills" (is that a word?). What do you think? - for 5 points.

I know this is kind of stirring an old simmering pot but it is winter up here in the northeastern US; even if it is pretending it is not.
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Old 02-04-2012
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I'm new to this, but I think I can guess the causality in both circumstances: failure to maintain a proper course. I know in the m/v Mariner's case, they had experience in going that route (a "recreational" route, and not a formal shipping channel), but probably fell victim to a rising tide and couldn't clear the bridge. What gets me about that one, is why, when the clearance is so close on a vessel of that displacement, that they don't make use of range finders or something to more accurately assess how much room they have between the tallest point on the vessel and what they are navigating under (I'm guessing that's what the article means by "navigational instruments"?). If they did have them, and didn't use them, then they should suffer the consequences. In the case of the Costa Concordia, that one was just wanton neglect of safety and Italian bravado. For a while I thought the story would reveal that he was under the influence of something, but it wouldn't surprise me that the captain was just a "show off". I don't think we'll know all of the details of the m/v Mariner's story for a while, but in the case of the Costa Concordia, I think it's safe to bet that that captain will be behind bars for quite a while and never be allowed to captain any vessel ever again. Do I get at least 1 point?

edit: I just re-read your 2nd question- yes, "de-skill" or "deskill" is a word, and his use of it seems appropriate to me. But, as mentioned in many other SN threads, I don't think there is any substitute for basic piloting skills where the risk is so high as in these examples. That's just me thinking as a newbie with the advantage of hind-site. We'll see what the courts decide on what happens, but I think Schettino will go to jail, the other guy- perhaps not. As to whether the outcome of these proceedings result in professional maritime policy changes- for the former, God, I hope so-- for the latter, we'll just have to wait and see.
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Last edited by Irunbird; 02-04-2012 at 08:34 AM.
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Old 02-04-2012
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I suspect in both cases a contributing factor was the complacency of operating in familiar waters, and having the mid-set that you know where all the hazards are. The author of the report called it "normalization of deviance".

This past summer I sailed from Cape May to Philadelphia and probably only looked at the charts a few times the entire trip. I must work on that character flaw this year.
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Last edited by Ulladh; 02-04-2012 at 10:20 AM.
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Old 02-04-2012
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Given what appears to be a 'deliberate edging towards the island', I don't think the Concordia incident is going to come to 'over reliance on modern nav tools', and as for the Delta Mariner incident they were clearly on course for the 'gap' between pylons.

Complacency would be my guess.. 'been there done this before - no problem' in both cases... until suddenly there was a problem.

We had an incident in BC some years back where a loaded ferry struck a rather large island and sank quickly, a local settlement came to the rescue and only 2 people were missing in the aftermath, quite a story there too, but as the diagram in the link shows, a crucial course change was not made, and it seems 'Otto' drove them into the beach. Plenty of speculation as to why, but it seems the male and female deck officers (the only two on the bridge) were somehow distracted.

Tracking the Queen of the North Sea Disaster: What Went Wrong - Popular Mechanics
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