Golden Ray and Hoegh Osaka Capsize

Did anyone ever question the wisdom of the pilot of Golden Ray to put the ship aground?

He was actually given an award.

It seems that the pilot on board the capsized car carrier Golden Ray deliberately took the vessel out of the heart of the shipping channel and grounded her. If not the channel would have been blocked for how long? In that case the economic damage would have been huge.

As the massive ship went over, Tennant swung the rudder all the way to the port side to get the Golden Ray out of the heart of the shipping channel and clear of the oncoming ship. Clinging to the compass he grounded the ship on a sandbar just as the rudder came out of the water.

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What interests me is the cause of the sudden capsize of the ship. It looks a lot like the capsize of the mv Hoeg Osaka on 3 January 2015 on the river Thames. The cause was an unstable ship with the GM unknown! Too big to capsize it seems. That’s how we do things these days. I think the same is more or less the case with the capsize of the Golden Ray.

From the Hoegh Osaka’s Investigations report:

No calculation of the vessel’s stability had been made, a practice found to be common across many operators’ fleets. The weight of cargo on board had been underestimated, being 265 tonnes greater than estimated. The investigation found that although the cargo had shifted as a result of the ship listing, it was not the cause of the list. The ship’s ballast water system was not fully serviceable, all but one of the gauges for each ballast tank were unserviceable, a situation that had existed since at least July 2014. It was possible to take manual readings of the amount of water in each ballast tank. The chief officer was in the habit of calculating how much water was transferred between tanks by timing the pumps and using their capacity of 7 tonnes per minute. Some of the straps used to secure the cargo to the deck were found not to meet regulations in force at the time, only being half as strong as they should have been.

Take your pick…

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There is a thread here on the Hoegh Osaka report:

I don’t know how good the MAIB report was in this case. For example the reports says no evidence of fatigue but I’d be interested to know how the crew managed to stay within work/rest hours given the fact they were at the end of a N. Europe coastwise run and were dealing with a schedule change.

Did the the investigation take the STCW records at face value?

Anyway, with regards to the Golden Ray, likely similar stability issues.

It is beyond belief in todays world, with all the stability apps,cargo programs, and modern ships that this keeps happening at the rate it does with car carriers. Between the fires and capsizings, last ships in this world I would sail on.

Do car ships have more fires the container ships? Or do they capsize more often? Without knowing what the actual rates are not much can be said.

Don’t recall any container ships capsizing recently. They do seem to have trouble keeping cargo onboard in heavy weather,and a few have had nasty fires. Worried more about car carriers capsizing than a container ship.

Yeah, I don’t know. Maybe successful PCTC captains are highly skilled mariners. I mean I wouldn’t rule it out.


The main causes of ship loss are collision, cargo shift and foundering (water ingress) and RoRo vessels were shown to be more susceptible to capsize from these events than other ship types.

That might have to do with special loading conditions of car carriers. The hold is, if you think away the body works, mostly filed with air. If half of the cars is in the hold then the total weight is about 0.5 * 7400 * 2000 kg = 7400000 kg = 7400 ton. I suppose that you must have a solid ballasting system to weigh the ship down. So much ‘air’ above deck is an advantage.

The sudden capsize of the Golden Ray could also be caused by a large free surface, a result of slack tanks and improper subdivisions of tanks (no longitudinal divisions) resulting in reduction of metacentric height and increases the possibility of capsizing, especially if GM (metacentric) is less( Ro Ro vessel). If you don’t calculate the ship’s GM then it could be that you also not take the trouble to care about slack tanks…

The classification RO/RO would include RO/CON and ferries as well as car carriers (PCTC/PCC) so that alone doesn’t tell us much.

Of the recent problems the only car carrier with a cargo shift that comes to mind off hand is the Modern Express and she didn’t capsize.

The problems that the Golden Ray, the Cougar Ace and the Hoegh Osaka had were all initiated by errors related to stability calculations.

Edit: Don’t know Golden Ray yet, cargo shift seems unlikely in protected waters.


Back in the mid 1980’s I was working for a small 2 ship company running to Northern Europe. The ships were WW2 C4 troop transports that were converted to containerships by Seatrain. Before the company went under they started cutting corners to save or make money. Shortly after sailing Norfolk for Bremerhaven one trip we started rolling. That in itself is not unusual but the 30 second roll period was. The mate started checking the cargo manifest and discovered a number containers “mis-stowed”. The worst were 5th tier containers that should be light loads or empties had loads in them. Thankfully the weather gods were with us and we ballasted what we could to increase stability. As I recall the Captain and Mate had a closed door talk with shore side so that such mistakes were not repeated.


Be careful. You might dislocate your shoulder.


It was high time that per 1 July 2016 the SOLAS Amendment VI/2 was put into force which meant that each container had to be weighed and as proof a Verified Gross Mass (VGM) certificate must be issued.


“Successful” is subjective. Not rolling your ship over is a low bar. Some captains do have thicker “shit happens” folders than others. For that I have no comment.

Wouldn’t a sudden hard rudder, for good or bad reasons, heel these carriers strongly?

If the ship was tender, full load. min fuel and ballast it’s going to heel over a lot in a hard turn. But the cargo is not likely to shift. Even with a few cars with no lashing stowed fore and aft with rubber tires on a steel deck, not likely to move far. Ship heeling over is not going to create very much force from acceleration. Be a slow roll.

I think most of the cargo stayed lashed on the ships were discussing. Was it the Baltic Ace that sank? I recall the cars were still lashed even though she was upside down on the bottom.


Yes, on our doorstep here. Sank in 14 minutes, unbelievable. A well known Dutch Naval architect called these ships floating coffins.

I wonder why you would say that?? :laughing:

14 minutes sounds quite good considering that the ship was holed in a collision.