On September 23, 2003, the M/V Eagle Corona was transiting inbound
on the Neches River enroute to Unocal.
At approximately 1335 the vessel was passing channel marker# 29
when the pilot onboard, Capt. noted
that the rudder was not responding to any helm commands.
The steering system appeared to be completely functional
however the rudder was stuck at 10 degrees to starboard and would not respond.
The steering motor was switched to the #2 motor
with the same results, no response.
The pilot radioed all vessels in the immediate vicinity
that they were experiencing steering problems and to stay clear.
The vessel continued to swing to starboard with a grounding imminent.
The pilot then stopped both engines and ordered full reverse.
The vessel slowed and ran soft aground near channel marker# 30.
The chief engineer, second engineer, and third engineer
headed to the steering flat to investigate the cause of the steering problems.
Upon entering the steering flat it was discovered
that an engineering cadet had left a mop
propped up against the railing of the steering flat.
Once the vessel got underway vibrations caused the mop to
fall onto the floating lever/hunting gear assembly of the steering gear
preventing the rudder from responding.
The mop was removed and the steering gear was restarted and tested satisfactorily.
The captain ordered the tanks sounded and a damage assessment to be conducted,
no major damage found to hull.
The vessel completed the transit without further incident.
Upon arriving at Unocal the vessel's class society, NKK, was contacted.
A surveyor from NKK attended the vessel and
found the steering gear operational
and a small dent in the hull near 2S ballast tank.
Dent to be repaired at next drydock.
No other damage or injuries reported.
//s// MST2, USCG Investigating