"Best" Marine Casualty?

Currently in a Bridge Resource Managment course at GLMA, and I have to present a case study of a casualty.

I know there are a lot of interesting ones out there, and vast amounts of resources on them but what are some the the “best”? I’m looking for things that have real clear mistakes and are just plain fun to talk about.

We have all heard about Valdez too!

ps. I know there is no such thing as a good casualty. lol :wink:

Thanks for any input!

You can find a whole bunch of interesting studies here:


Tug Valour

I read over this one from time to time and am still amazed at how such an incident could occur given the collective experience of the Captain and his crew. In order of LEAST experience, 10, 13, 25 years… These guys should have known better…:confused:

The Valour case study is one of the best.


[quote=Cal;26252]Tug Valour

I read over this one from time to time and am still amazed at how such an incident could occur given the collective experience of the Captain and his crew. In order of LEAST experience, 10, 13, 25 years… These guys should have known better…:confused:[/quote]

Cal, thanks for bringing up the case of the Valour, I did some reading on this case and I wonder, specifically, who should have known what?

Siberfire wrote:
[I]Currently in a Bridge Resource Managment course at GLMA, and I have to present a case study of a casualty. [/I]


I have a very obscure, but significant high seas casualty (April, 1867) that may be of interest. It resulted in litigation that went all the way to the US Supreme Court, and led ultimately, to the standardization of the use of navigation lights on the high seas by all maritime trading nations. Fortunately, there was no loss of life.

The case was the collision of the [B]SV Berkshire[/B] (US, New Orleans for Havre), Captain Benjamin Berry with [B]RMS Scotia[/B] (UK, pax, Liverpool for New York) Commodore Charles Henry Evans Judkins. The Berkshire’s owners (Paul Sears, Reuben Hopkins, James Smith, all of Massachusetts) sued the British & North American Royal Mail Steam Ship Company (aka Cunard Line) for the loss of their sailing vessel. The case was ultimately adjudicated by the US Supreme Court in favour of Cunard in December, 1871.

There were no casualties, but the collision ultimately led, in part, to the development of what is commonly called the “rules of the road”.

Here is an extract from my account of the incident. I have underlined the pertinent section.
[B]Having departed Liverpool 6 April (1867) SCOTIA was proceeding at 13 knots under a clear, starlit sky on Thursday, 11 April.
At 1:50 A.M. during the middle watch, the port paddlebox lookout
reported to the officer of the deck, the chief officer,
a ship bearing two points on Scotia’s port bow. At first, the chief officer thought the unknown ship was a steamer, hull down on the horizon. In fact, the vessel was the full-rigged ship BERKSHIRE, of Boston, Captain Benjamin F. Berry, master. [/B][/I][I][B]BERKSHIRE[/B][/I][I][B] had departed New Orleans for Havre, France, 6 March, with 2,200 bales of cotton.

On board Berkshire, the chief mate had the watch. Under the orders of Captain Berry, [/B][/I][U][I][B]BERKSHIRE[/B][/I][/U][I][B][U] was showing only a single white light in her bow, hung from the anchor stock[/U]. Captain Berry, to conserve
lamp oil, was not using red and green sidelights
denoting port and starboard, as required by
u.s. law. (SCOTIA, on the other hand, did have sidelights.)

From a distance, [/B][/I][I][B]BERKSHIRE[/B][/I][I][B] looked like a steamer, so Scotia maneuvered appropriately for a crossing situation. When it became evident that Berkshire was closing, not crossing, SCOTIA put her helm to port to avoid her, slowed engines to halfspeed,
and then stopped them.[/B][/I]

Citations are: 81 U.S. 170, '188; 20 L. Ed. 822, 826; 14 Wall. 170.

My article originally appeared in the Nautical Research Journal ofthe Nautical Research <st1><st1:city w:st=“on”>Guild</st1:city>, <st1:country-region w:st=“on”>Cuba</st1:country-region></st1>, NY.<o></o> [U]Royal Mail Steam Ship <st1>SCOTIA</st1>, Cunard’s Last Paddle Liner, 1862-1876[/U][B], [/B]Parts 1 – 4, & Addendum. Volume 47, # 1, 2002, & following.

Hope this is of help.

Need more, e-mail me: rmsscotia@gotricounty.com



Apart from me hitting the…no, don’t want to go there.

The Lady Gwendolen is one that I always remember from decades ago. An early case where the owners, (beer shippers with a deadline!), got hit with some of the blame for not “making” the Captain slow down in fog, as opposed to leaving it to his discretion. Sheesh, didn’t we all put “moderate” in the visibility column when we could not even see No. 3 hatch!

I think it happened in the 60s or 70s but might still be with the MAIB.

The Norwegian Dream hitting the Ever Decent in the English Channel back in 1999, or when it hit a barge in Uruguay a couple years ago.

The Alaska Ranger sinking too.

The Japanese whaler shearing a piece of the Sea Shepard boat should make for a good classroom lesson. It comes equiped with the video and the commentator and I guess cameraman saying in English “not good”.
Good part of this one is everyone survived the meeting !

my heart, after Molly left me sitting on the dock with nothing but memories and my seabag.

The Alaska Ranger NTSB report is here.

The Alaska Ranger case was a doozie…

one of the worst maritime disasters: over 1000 people. right here in NYC, the East River barely 100 feet from shore (worst single day loss of life in NYC till 9/11). caused major changes in how the maritime business was operated. very interesting for the professioanl mariner to know this one.

I would pick an obscure case. That way all the facts are from a single source and in the hands of the person doing the evaluating. Cases that are well know have too much baggage to be discussed with an open mind. For example imagine trying to discuss the Titanic, nobody is going to listen as they all ready are experts. Same goes for slightly lesser know cases.

I agree with Kennebec, however I would add to his “obscure case” my “Old case” - “old” as in more then 75 years: time gives us a great insight into what were the actual historical outcomes of any one event.

of course, I am a completely bias history buff so my opinions could be thought of as irrelevent.

Mark Twain’s descriptions of river boat fires and groundings in “Life On The Mississippi” are classics. You’d blow the class away using one of those.

yes, dougpine: smart.

Take a look at this one: [B]http://tinyurl.com/y86pevs[/B]

It is an IMO bibliography for information about the loss of the Egytian ferry[I][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=1]
[/SIZE][/FONT][/I]“Al Salam Boccaccio 98.”

The transcript of the “black box” recorder is incredible. I used this ship as a case study when teaching crowd and crisis and RoRo stability classes, haven’t found a better one yet.

Just go peruse the NTSB website for one. All of the reports are public info, and you can look at some and see if the case is interesting.

Maybe look into the case of the cruise ship in Alaska where the Cal Maritime kid ran it aground on his first watch? Good example of a fresh out of school Mate and what the Captain should have done.