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Precis File
SHIP NAME: Iron Baron KEY: NUM. ENTRIES: 4
source SSY
type A
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Scuttled off Tasmania after going aground.


source ATSB
type D
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link http://www.atsb.gov.au/publications/investigation_reports/1995/MAIR/mair83.aspx

Single (CRP) screw ship, part-loaded with 23,896 tons of manganese ore, was maneuvering to pick up pilot at the mouth of the Tamar River on the north coast of Tasmania. Both wind and tide were pushing the ship toward shore. Captain got too close to Hebe Reef. Because of the conditions (Force 6 wind from the north), it took a couple of tries to get the pilot on-board. Immediately, after the pilot was embarked, the ship had to be turned fairly sharply to avoid the shoal water. At 5 knots, rudder forces were insufficient to prevent ship from grounding.

The Australian puts a lot of emphasis on paperwork, alleging lack of passage planning. They admit that the passage was fully planned up to the pilot station, but that the plan did not include the actual picking up of the pilot. This of course is normal practice, and it is not at all clear what effect more paperwork would have had.

A more valid criticism is that this was the Captain's first command, and he had been given nil training in maneuvering this ship.

Initial damage extended back to 4P ballast and 4P FO (centerline) double bottom tanks. The crew estimated that the forward perpendicular had gone from a draft of 9.1 m fwd to 8.2 m despite the fact that the tide was rising.

Weather deteriorated; ship started to break up and had to be abandoned. About a 500 bunker spill, most of which was pushed ashore.

Refloated 1995-07-16, but Bell Bay refused entry for discharge. left no choice but to scuttle.


source WOININ
type A
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I checked the story of the Iron Baron on CTX and the Australian weblink and added some info as attachement that you can find useful. By chance I had an old exemplar of the BA chart 167 and I copied the pilot area.

The report gave the feeling that the Iron Baron had a pitch propeller, which is strange for such a large vessel. It would explain a lot because pitch propellers are very bad for maneuvring, for sure when the propeller is stopped or turning slowly as it does not send enough water to the rudder. Furthermore they are not so good to swing the ship as the astern effect is opposite to the forward one. But by reading carefully I believe that the words "increasing the pitch" simply mean increasing the RPM.

It seems also obvious that the master had the wrong distance from the Hebe reef light tower, and that was likely the most important contributing factor.

The NW wind appears also to have prevented the ship to swing quickly to port, as it implied to bring the higher stern against the wind.

At 1935 when the pilot was on the bridge, you can see on the BA chart that the bow of the ship was less than 2 cables from the shoal water, too short to swing safely to port and clear of the shoal. There was more water on starboard side and the pilot had it right to bring the ship to this direction, but it had to cancel the swing to port first, and that took too much time. Perhaps a full astern maneuver could have been more successful, but there was the inertia and the current.

I believe that a possible mistake of the pilotage was not to have instructed the master to put the ladder on starboard side, steer a safe North Easterly course until the pilot was on board, then he could make a broad full turn to port to come in line with the leading lights somewhere NW of Hebe reef. More or less like the Aegean Sea should have done, but on the other starboard side.


source CTX
type A
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The Australians put the full blame on the Master for being closer to the reef than he should have been when picking up the pilot. This of course is true. But almost in passing they say:

Because during its first call at Bell Bay in March, 1990, Iron Baron exhibited a pronounced sluggishness in steering at deep draught in shallow water with a following tide, the vessel was restricted by the Port Authority to entering the river during the last hour and a half of flood tide.
The Master was faced with a very difficult situation. He had to come in close wih a following Force 6 wind and tide; he had to go slow to pick up the pilot; and he had to turn the ship to give the pilot boat a lee. His problems were further compounded by the fact that the ship would not maintain heading without the prop in forward pitch. Basically, he had a ship that was nearly unmaneuverable at low speed.

Captain Woinin is correct in saying that picking up the pilot on the starboard side would have given more margin for error at the cost of a full 360. But there is a lot of hindsight in this analysis. (Unlike Captain Woinin, CTX feels the ATSB report pretty clearly indicates the ship had a controllable pitch propeller; but we could use confirmation.)

Also after the pilot was on-board, he hesitated slightly to go to full power (full pitch) at low speed with the rudder hard over, because he knew this would put an engine that was not fully up to temperature in a full load or more likely an over-load condition. They recently had had a cracked cylinder liner which they thought was a result of speeding up too fast. Engine was a 2SA 6 cylinder Sulzer RTA 58, 6803 KW.

Clearly, this ship's maneuvering capabilities were not consistent with what it was asked to do. The ATSB, the best marine casualty investigative group in the world, makes no mention of this.

The CTX feels that the Iron Baron grounding is another argument for twin screw. And more conservative main engine design. Many Chief Engineers request -- sometimes demand -- limits on rudder movements at full power because the combination of full power and a lot of rudder will over-load the engine. The engine makers claim this is OK since it only lasts a minute or two, but the CE's know better. They know the engines are so fragile that each such over-load creates a significant risk of breaking something, and totally immobilizing the ship.