NTSB reports on bulker crane’s costly contact with grain elevator

Written by Marine Log Staff
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The National Transportation Safety Board has issued a Marine Accident Brief on its investigation of a November 11, 2020, incident in which the boom of a bulk carrier’s crane contacted part of the Zen Noh grain facility in Convent, La., resulting in $480,000 of damage.

According to Zen-Noh Grain Corporation (ZGC) the Convent export elevator located at Mile 164 on the Mississippi River, can load or unload, simultaneously, more than 150,000 bushels per hour.

The contact occurred when the 656-foot, Marshall Islands flagged bulk vessel GH Storm Cat was completing corn loading operations with its No. 1 crane boom. The vessel was moored starboard side to with a crew of 19.

No pollution or injuries were reported. The vessel’s crane was undamaged; damage to the shoreside conveyor gallery was estimated to be $481,006.

CCTV still image of the GH Storm Cat’s crane during the initial sequence of the accident list—lifting the payloader out of ship’s no. 1 cargo hold.
CCTV still image of the GH Storm Cat’s crane during the initial sequence of the accident list—lifting the payloader out of ship’s no. 1 cargo hold. [Photo courtesy of ZGC. Annotated by NTSB]

The vessel’s crew was removing a payloader from the number 1 cargo hold, which had been filled. A Zen-Noh Grain Corporation employee attached the crane hook to the payloader and then walked out of view of the crane operator. The crane operator, without the assistance of a signalman or spotter, hoisted the payloader out of the cargo hold. While lowering the crane boom to land the payloader on the pier, the boom tip penetrated the shoreside facility runway.

No injuries or pollution were reported. The contact resulted in more than $480,000 worth of damage to the shoreside conveyor gallery.

The NTSB determined the probable cause of the contact was the absence of a dedicated signalman, which led to the ship’s crane operator’s misjudgment of the location of the crane boom while lowering the payloader to the pier.

“All ship’s lifts—no matter how routine—should be adequately planned and risk assessed,” the NTSB report says. “All personnel involved in the lifting operation should be clearly identified and their duties understood before the start of the lift.”

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