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Precis File
SHIP NAME: Alva Cape KEY: NUM. ENTRIES: 3
source USCG
type D
volume Y
material
dead 33
link

Collision with Texaco Massachusetts. The Alva Cape was loaded with 132,854 barrels of naptha, The Texaco Mass was in ballast. The was a daylight collision in good visibility in very close quarters, at the junction of Bergen Point West Reach of Kill van Kull and the Newark Bay south reach. Both ships were traveling at very low speeds. The Mass about 2.5-3 knots headed SSW; the Alva Cape at 4-5 knots headed west. The Alva Cape was the burdened vessel and the ship had agreed on a port to port passing by whistle signals, so the Alva Cape should have come to starboard to pass behind the Massacusetts. But Alva Cape pilot was worried he did not have room to go behind the Mass at last minute went full astern, and his bow turned to port, The Massachusetts hit the Alva Cape in 1S penetrating to a depth of 12 feet. At the time of impact the vessels were nearly perpendicular to each other.

When the Mass backed away, the naptha in the tank spilled out and a minute or two later one of the tugs, the Latin American, exploded. The USCG thinks the naptha vapors were drawn into the tug's diesel engine. In the ensuing fire 33 people were killed, and 19 hospitalized for 72 hours or more.


source HOOKE
type A
volume 23000B
material
dead 32
link

A total of 32 lives were lost and another 41 men injured, five critically, when the British motor tanker Alva Cape and the American steam tanker Texaco Massachusetts collided in the Kill van Kull channel off Bergen Point, New York harbour, at 2:15 pm on June 16, 1966.


source CTX
type D
volume 13000B
material
dead 33
link

The USCG blamed both the pilots for going too fast, and not going astern sooner, especially the burdened Alva Cape. But it is more probable that this killer collision was caused by going too slow, going astern, and the ensuing loss of directional control.

What is strange is that the Alva Cape's bow went to port when the pilot went astern. On a single screw, right hand prop ship, the stern should go to port when the engines go astern. Even stranger he ordered one of his tugs to push against the port bow, and the starboard anchor dropped. Yet the bow went to port. The USCG takes no notice of these strange happenings. The Alva Cape pilot survived, and, if there had been sort of mechanical problem, he surely would have mentioned it. It's conceivable the rudder was hard starboard which would have tended to push the ship in the opposite direction, once there was reverse flow over the rudder. We simply don't know.

The fire was put out in a couple of hours. The Alva Cape, which had gone aground was refloated, and the remaining cargo transferred. But the USCG report gives no volumes spilled or recovered. Hooke says Alva Cape was loaded with 143,000 barrels of naptha, of which 120,000 were transhipped, before she was towed out to sea and sunk. But I went with the USCG number.

It is interesting that the Texaco Mass, a 16,515 GRT, ship had 27 tanks. and 15,000 SHP.