MSC Michigan VII - Out of Control, Charleston

A bit of a laundry list for those on the bridge. It is unfortunate that Military Sealift Command chose an acronym that was also used by a shipping company regarded by many pilots to mean More Sh*t Coming.

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Throttle jammed??? !!!

I do not want to be the first to speculate what was “jammed” on the bridge and in ECR.

(1184) Containership Throttle Jammed Open Leaving Port of Charleston | Ravenel Bridge Closed - YouTube

For starters I would "HIT " M/E emcy stop button. It is near bridge telegraph, is HUGE !!! pink in colour. You can not miss it.

What a fitting title of the panel :wink:

MSC MICHIGAN VII (effective 2022-10)

Sealand Michigan (effective 2000-10)

IMO Number: IMO 9196864

Liberia (effective 2022-10)

Hong Kong, China (effective 2019-05)

Malta (effective 2013-07)

Greece (effective 2000-10)

Call sign: 5LGR5

MMSI: 636021994

Ship UN Sanction: Not on list

Owning/operating entity under UN Sanction: Not on list


Type: Container Ship (Fully Cellular) (effective 2000)

Date of build: 2000-10

Gross tonnage: 74,583


Registered owner:
Kyveli Oceanway Ltd (effective 2022-10-16)

IMO Company Number 6333256

Nationality of registration Liberia

Address Care of MSC Shipmanagement Ltd , MSC House, 8, Spyrou Kyprianou Avenue, 3070 Limassol, Cyprus.

Company status Active SOURCE : GISIS

Equasis - ShipInfo SPEEDY GONZALES.pdf (858.6 KB)

Let me quess on the crew composition: Greek ISM manager then highly likely Greek crew manager , hence : Filippino -very highly likely, Ukraine-highly likely, Indian -likely. Or Ukr/Ph mix.

And from my last encounter with GR ISM manager i remember c.a. 35 thick volumes of SMS - no chance to read all in 4 months contract. Nightmare.

looks she is re-berthing right now 24.06.06 0702hrs zulu

Looks to me like a miracle on The Cooper River with the speed of 14 kts and 11 mtrs draft none of the Bernoulli’s effects have materialised , otherwise the pilot should be proclaimed as genius or wizzard. Impressive performance.

MSC had akward beginings but look at them now.

I know. The other sobriquet was Mafia Shipping Company.
If I wanted to launder money I would own a shipping company.


Also Australia has started as penal colony AND LOOK AT THEM NOW !!! ;-). shining diamond among other states :wink:

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Pressing the emergency stop button would have stopped the main engine. It would have taken the engine crew a few minutes to shift to engine side maneuvering if all goes well. I think the Pilot and Master decided not take the risk to stop and continue at the set speed (most likely half ahead). Looks like it is a fast ship – 24-25 kts. Perhaps 6500 teu? Similar to the vessels you sailed on.

Baltic shipping has some info on the engine particulars. Does not look accurate. Sulzer RND were obsolete mid 80s and power listed as 77k KW? Cannot be such huge power.

I know it as I tested it many times under propitious conditions , an excercise which engineers are not happy with. But if You do not test,then You do not know what to expect . See Dali- who knows how many times and if any, the blackout and blackout recovery was tested and with what result.

I do not remember even one time, the engineers responded with enthusiasm when such excercise was proposed and some chengs called even techsupers to discourage me from such “crazy” ideas. The policy " do not touch it " seems to be prevailing everywhere especialy on time chartered vsls :wink:

One more thing. How long does it take to press the button and transfer Bridge Control to ECR control and if still the problem persist , then to transfer from ECR ctrl to emcy local stn ??

Checked my D.B. record : all same size vsls had from 75k HP to 85k HP

If this was a governor (Woodward type) or the governor actuator (electric) failure, I think the crew would go directly to engine side maneuvering. No need to transfer any controls. Emergency stop and start from engine side. If all goes well should take no more than a couple minutes.

Key is ‘if all goes well’. Master/Pilot I think made the right decision to wait until they were clear and in open waters.

PS: 77k HP is more like it … about 57k kW.


I would have had serious words with you if you even approached the emergency stop button in this scenario.


Shift to ER throttle control?

The ship was at the North Charleston terminal, I’ll give credit to the pilot for getting the ship safely out to sea. You can still see the track if you look on marine traffic. That ship was bookin.

The only time to push the emergency stop would be if you had tugs fast. The bridge team made the correct decision.
I experienced a MAN B&W 60? do this deep sea. The C/Eng and I were on the bridge having a coffee and suddenly this vibration started and my initial reaction was we had run over a net until I saw the revs. 105 rpm was full ahead and we were doing 115.
Actuated emergency stop. Fire alarms went off with engine room full of smoke . The engine was restarted under local control to lessen thermal stresses.
The Chief set a record from bridge to control room that will stand for some time. He was a fit young man.


I remember vaguely two situations that M/E stopped responding to bridge telegraph when approaching port and when slow down program from full ahd see revs to full ahead maneuvering revs was finished . E/R always requested control transfer to ECR and dealt with it . If my memory is correct they mentioned , the fuel rack or rail was stuck . Somehow cheng dealt with it but untill docking the control was in ECR and bridge telegraph was used as in good old times as selsyn.

Do You see anybody here who is not giving credits to the pilot .Because I do not.
And pls be so kind to explain what is so unusual abt having M/E control in ECR instead of the bridge. The delay in executing bridge telegraph settings is negligible. Are You suggesting that with such control configuration the vessel can not unberth, can not navigate in pilotage waters all the way to the pilot stn?? If so, it looks we had different experiences.

I am not sure what the ships track has to do with M/E control . Pls be so kind to explain.

You are describing an EXTREME situation.
Did You try it on some safe anchorage , with minimum speed and on DSAHD informing/consulting the Engineers prior doing it ?

If not, then try it and come back with your impressions/remarks. We can pass judgements they made a correct decisions from the comfortable chair of the hindsight . We do not know all the details and circumstances and I am not sure the investigation revelations will be made public.

I sorry if I didn’t explain things properly. The pilots made the correct decisions in the case of the MSC Michigan. They didn’t push the emergency stop and chose to keep control of the ship as well as taking preventive steps to clear the traffic from the bridge. Stopping the engine without having any guarantee when the engine would restart and regaining control would not be the best course of action.
If tugs had been still fast the emergency stop would have been the correct course of action as the ships increasingly speed would have been dangerous for the tugs.
For the record operation of the emergency stop was part of the PPM and was tested and recorded appropriately.

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On B&W engines upto the MC series with individual (Bosch type) fuel pumps a fuel rack turns the plunger inside the barrel based on the speed/fuel setting. The racks of the cylinders are connected to a common fuel ‘rail’ or shaft. Rotation of this fuel rail is by the governor or electric actuator. Not uncommon that the racks get stiff and manifests in slow or sluggish motion.
Very rare in Sulzer engines (upto the RTA series) as the ‘rack’ is only controlling a light weight static valve in the fuel pump.
In this case, it looks like the fuel rail was stuck or frozen in position. Strange for a Sulzer engine as governor failure would put the rack to zero. Maybe the B altic shipping info is incorrect.

PS: In Hogsnort experience they were probably 1 rev away from the ‘Overspeed trip’ of the main engine that would actuate the same shut down device as the ‘E-Stop’ to stop the engine.
Absolutely nothing wrong in using the e-stop if the Master/Pilot decides to use it at anytime. And nothing wrong in testing - you just need to advise gently … :slight_smile:

Quick-thinking harbor pilots prevent disaster with runaway ship in Charleston Harbor

“The engine was locked onto a high speed. So the transit was occurring at about twice the normal or the typical speed,” said Capt. John Cameron, the executive director for the Charleston Branch Pilots Association.

The speeding vessel left the harbor pilot with not many options and not much time to act.

“The pilot and the captain, who are always working together on the ship, came to a consensus that amongst their very few options was to proceed with the voyage at speed,” said Cameron.

Just about tore some of the ROS ships off the dock.