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Precis File
SHIP NAME: Westchester KEY: NUM. ENTRIES: 5
source LMIU
type D
volume 546KG
material
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Had crankcase explosion, lost steering and grounded at Mile 38, River Mississippi, 28 Nov 2000 Refloated and anchored same day No.1 starboard tank holed and 546,000 gallons crude oil escaped Discharged 13 Dec Sailed 22 Dec. Clean-up completed 27 Dec.


source MISLE
type D
volume 538KG
material
dead
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source CGMIX
type A
volume
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ON 28NOV00, AT 1837, M/V WESTCHESTER SUFFERED A CRANKCASE EXPLOSION, CAUSING A LOSS OF PROPULSION AND OIL SPILL OF APPROXIMATELY 538,000 - 550,000 GALLONS OF OIL FROM THE #1 STARBOARD TANK. THE OIL SPILL WAS AS A RESULT OF THE VESSEL RUNNING INTO OR ALLIDING WITH ITS OWN ANCHOR AS EFFORTS WERE BEING MADE TO STOP THE FORWARD MOMENTUM OF THE VESSEL. THE SPILLED OIL ENTERED INTO THE LOWER MISSISSIPPI RIVER, A NAVIGABLE WATERWAY OF THE UNITED STATES, CREATING A VISIBLE SHEEN. SEE MCNS ENTERED UNDER CORRESPDONDENCE FOR FURTHER DETAILS ON CAUSE OF CASUALTY. SEE ACTIVITIES # 594899 AND #595134 FOR DETAILS ON OIL SPILL AND SUBSEQUENT VESSEL INSPECTIONS. MSO NOLA INVESTIGATIONS


source FSI11
type D
volume
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MACHINERY DAMAGE WESTCHESTER OIL TANKER BAHAMAS 49754 BAHAMAS 28/11/2000

On 28 November 2000, this loaded tanker was under pilotage in the Mississippi when instruments indicated the possibility of a crankcase explosion Soon afterwards, at 1801, an explosion occurred and at 1802 the bridge was informed that the engine had to be stopped Despite attempts to anchor the vessel, it grounded at 1820 and caused serious pollution

Causes

The Officer of the Watch and the pilot were unaware of the engine problems until the engine had to be stopped.

Issues raised Human factor

The navigating Bridge Watch should be kept informed of potential problems in the machinery space The standing orders should contain an instruction that the bridge watchkeepers are kept informed of potential propulsion problems and these orders should be followed.


source CTX
type D
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uscg case id 42286, coast guard says 538KG. This was a very high profile spill with commentator after commentator decrying the fact that the ship was single hull. CTX has not been able to find one press report that noted that the ship was single screw, and that it was the loss of the main engine that caused the spill.

The IMO analysis is remarkably weird. The cause is the bridge being unaware of a potential engine problems?????? IMO goes out of its way to blame everything on some "human factor". According to the experts at IMO, it's always the crew's fault. And if only we had more procedures, these operational errors would be eliminated.

The cause of course of the Westchester spill is the loss of power due to a crankcase explosion. Crankcase fires are a problem to which all big two-stroke diesels are prone. What happens is that lube oil builds up in the space surrounding the crankshaft below the piston, usually due to a leak or a control problem in the lube oil system. Once that occurs all that is required is a source of ignition, and with all the rotating machinery in the space, there are lots of possible sources. This is such a common problem, that the engines are fitted with blow-out panels to minimize the damage to the engine in the event of a crankcase explosion. It is probable that many tanker casualties that merely list Fire/Explosion as their cause are crankcase explosions.

The engines are also equipped with an oil mist detector which attempts to sense the lube oil build up in the crankcase. In this case, it sounds like the oil mist detector sounded an alarm shortly -- the report does not say how shortly -- before the fire. Since there is always lube oil in the crankcase, oil mist detectors are notoriously unreliable, prone to false positives. So its not clear what the bridge would have done, or could have done, even if it knew about the alarm immediately. The obvious solution is propulsion redundancy.

Need location and depth of damage.