Why the gcaptain forum sometimes gets it wrong


I was thinking about that. CC said early on the tow wire parted, that didn’t make sense to me till I saw the video of the wire getting fiddle stringed (Bing!)

To me it didn’t make sense because of my experience on a single screw 3000 hp tug. We didn’t have enough horsepower to tight-wire at sea like that. My experience misled me


The forum called the BOUNTY about right too.

A lot of speculative ideas built on a lot of informed guesses get thrown into the forum and usually get distilled fairly close to what happened.

The forum continues to point out errors and false conclusions in the EL FARO report.

I think that the forum also throws out ideas that make their way to investigators and gets them looking in the right direction.


Smaller vessels do use that route.

Blight reef is about due East of the south end of the northern most magenta TSS, the "bend in the road.

The problem is that the story that the EV was taking a shortcut fits our preference for a narrative. The answer that the cause was likely a string of, at that time, unknown events is not a satisfactory story.

The safe navigation of big tankers is a process that is heavily defended. (formal plot, VTS, pilots, training, licenses)

In almost in every case the cause is going to be events that will only make sense once known. So there is a 99% chance that the simple story is wrong. But that doesn’t satisfy our demand for a story that makes sense.

Here’s another chart - you can see how much “sense” the short cut story makes in the absence of any other information.


I said it before and I was right. The Captain of the EF was mired in his own biases, and only perhaps realized at the very end his role in endangering the vessel. You could see it in the transcript, in the offhanded way he dismissed the concerns of the mates. It’s hard to criticize the dead, given the tragedy of their demise but if we don’t, we don’t learn.


I’m surprised that local masters suggested that EXXON VALDEZ was taking a “short cut” behind Bligh Reef. It would be insane to take a big ship through there. That would be the last thing I would expect.

When I heard about this incident I was incredulous. Given how wide open and clear the passages is along the VTS track, I did not see how it was possible to stray that far off course and run up on Bligh Reef.

It would have been difficult for anyone to intuit that the fatigued 3rd Mate was given the conn with the ship headed off track directly toward Bligh Reef to avoid ice, and that he then failed to make the turn back on track after clearing the ice. Sometimes the weirdest things can and do happen.


11 posts were split to a new topic: The El Faro and Commercial Pressure


Pretty much, yeah.


Whenever I did have a opportunity to see the popular tv news on a “real” maritime incident the media didn’t have a clue what questions to ask, nor, evidently, who to ask. Total rubbish was generally the result of their report.
Any more, I go straight to 'G Capt." to learn anything and this is what the public should or is doing.
Doing so will put you leagues ahead of whatever bilge is rolling in the mass media.


I know someone that worked the vessel and most of what i have read about the incident doesn’t jive with his story. From what i am told it was a BRM-Office problem quite simple. The Mate should have recognized what was happening but thats another story.


That is what I did when the El Faro incident happened. I looked for a professional opinion and found gcaptain forum. I have been a nuisance (to some) on here ever since.


That’s the ideal. In practice it depends upon what actual expertise members have and if it relevant or not.

In thinking about past threads I think there is a natural tendency for each of us to put more weight on our own experience than is justified.

The Fennica grounding near Dutch Harbor is an example.

The Alaskan trawlerman who commented said it was ridiculous to think the charts were at fault because everyone knows that patch where the Fennica grounded is shallow and to be avoided.

Other posters with Alaskan experience said it was a well known fact that in Alaska it’s standard practice to avoid unfamiliar waters without local knowledge because of possibility of charting errors.

Some forum members with no Alaskan experience thought the idea that charts should not necessarily be trusted was preposterous.

Each of us was using our own experience and discounting the experience of others.


As previously mentioned I discount information and opinions expressed by anyone untill I can determine their biases.

One of the problems with the forum is the difficulty determining the personal information (experience, education, nationality, etc) that is necessary to determine bias and perspective of any individual poster. To find the bias I often have to run specific post by people of known bias (sometimes this is done for us simply by a frequent poster responding to these posts).

On the other hand a wide range of bias and perspectives often leads to new channels of thought.


I would also contend that the gCaptain forum is good at solving puzzles but ineffective at solving mysteries.


The only problem I have with providing personal information is what happens with a lot of people on other social media sites where employers have ammunition to take action against employees.


True and this might be another reason we are able to tease out better predictions. Specifically because we can contact individual posters directly, ask questions and promise to keep background information private.


Here is the article from the ADN NTSB investigates whether ship tried a shortcut course

How could they make a mistake of this magnitude?" Lethcoe asked. Instead of assuming Cousins made a huge mistake, he said, it is easier to believe he was trying to navigate the tanker through the old steamship passage and made a minor error that put the vessel aground.


I remember explaining the “error chain” to my brother who is in quality control for a large pharmaceutical company… he went all Sigma 6 Black Belt in me… apparently “they were fucking morons who made bad judgement calls” doesn’t work in his industry. I got emailed a 150 slide power point… He went into how shipboard failure goes all the way back the training facilities and their training certification. The training facilities are at fault not the people who were fucking morons… I fault idiots not the school that they went to as many people th course and had positive outcomes… I’m just a deck ape not a white collar scientist


Just send Mr. Pharmaceutical


A person aware that there is in fact a question is about 95% there.


This is one of the reasons I don’t hide where I’m coming from when I post on accident or hot topics.

I was post pretty heavily on topics concerning the US Navy, but I don’t hide the fact that I’m in the Navy myself. Thus, anything I say is colored by that experience and bias(though I was pretty critical of both major accidents).