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Precis File
SHIP NAME: Tien Chee KEY: NUM. ENTRIES: 4
source HOOKE
type A
volume Y
material
dead 82
link

The collision between the Liberian motor tanker Tien Chee and the British steamship Royston Grange on May 11, 1972, resulted in the loss of 82 lives, making it the worst maritime disaster of that year. The Tien Chee was en route from Bahia Blanca to La Plata, loaded with 20,000 tons of crude oil, when she collided with the Royston Grange in dense fog at 5 am on may 11 in the Indio Channel, River Plate, about 35 miles SW of Montevideo. Fire swept thru the Royston Grange, which was loaded with frozen and chilled meat and butter and was also carrying 10 passengers. She had only sailed from Buenos Aires some hours earlier en route to London via Montevideo. All 63 crew members, 10 passengers, and the Argentive river pilot on board the British vessel died because of the fire. while another eight men were killed on the Tien Chee. 32 crewmen managed to abandon the blazing tanker, which lay alongside the furiously burning Royston Grange, spilling some of her thick black cargo into the River Plate. They were subsequently rescued from two lifeboats. The collision blocked all sea traffic to and from Buenos Aires until the Tien Chee then drifted aground on a sandbar on the edge of the shipping channel before being towed to La Plata Roads. Such was the severity of the damage sustained that she was declared a constructive total loss and, after waiting many years at the Naval base at Santiago for the outcome of legal proceedings, the wreck was eventually sold at auction to a company of Buenos Aires shipbreakers, and then demolished in 1976.


source OSIR
type D
volume 1,470,000G
material
dead
link


source CAHILL_G
type D
volume 800T
material
dead 82
link

Tien Chee was inbound from Rosales to La Plata loaded. Pilot talked master of Tien Chee into entering Rio Plata channel at nearly low tide. On top of that, northerly wind was pushing water out of the estuary. Bottom is very soft, investigating board believed Tien Chee with a draft of 30 feet was dredging. She was making 11 knots, when she should have been doing more than 12. She probably had about three feet of squat. On top of that channel maintenance was at best spotty. At 0500 she sighted the Royston Grange at a distance of 9 miles. Everything looked good for a port to port passing but with a CPA of only 50 to 100 m.

When the bows of Royston Grange and Tien Chee came abreast of one another, the bow of the former suddenly sheered sharply to port. Seconds later her stem struck Tien Chee at an angle of 40 degrees in way of her no 7 cargo tank just forward of midships, tearing a large gash in her side that was extended into the the three tanks aft as Royston Grange surged ahead.
A fireball formed which due to the northerly wind enveloped Royston Grange killing everyone on-board. Eight people were killed on the Tien Chee as well. The subsequent investigation revealed that the south side of the channel had shoaled to little more than the Royston Grange's 23 foot draft.

Cahill blames bank/interaction effects, the Tien Chee master's failure to wait for more tide, his failure to slow down, and his failure to avoid passing at one of the shallowest points in the channel.


source CTX
type C
volume Y
material
dead 82
link

Cahill clearly disagrees with Hooke's dense fog. CTX is going with Cahill on this one. Tien Chee almost certainly not inerted, but might not have made much difference in this case. Cahill's 800 ton spill looks way, way low. OSIR number is much more believable.

The real problem here is the economic pressure to push channel without some sort of active traffic control.