Report of Signet Tug that Cut Lose a RO/RO Barge

Thanks for clarification! Now as tugsailor said 2 wires or not 2 wires that is the question. If it is indeed the signet thunder as per signets spec sheet she is double drum but only 1300’ of wire on the second drum so my guess would be 1 wire unless she’s been modified

Yes, it would be good to hear more about this, but don’t count on it.

Every time I’ve seen one of the Invader-class tugs towing those barges it’s always been on 2 wires. But this isn’t the first time this has happened, and unless and until attitudes change significantly for the better it won’t be the last. Great sea-boats though the Invaders may be, there are limits to everything, and routinely operating near or at those limits increases the chances of things going wrong.

In Nov. 2009 the Sentry got caught by a wicked nor’easter, the remnants of Hurricane Ida, parted both 2-1/4" wires, and lost the La Princesa, which then drifted until it became an off-season tourist attraction on Virginia Beach.

http://www.professionalmariner.com/February-2010/Barge-drifts-100-miles-and-runs-aground-after-towlines-part/

Why? Not just because the captain “did not anticipate” getting caught from behind by the storm, as the Crowley spokesman so helpfully offered. Throwing the skipper under the bus is always easy. Manning-up and acknowledging that there is a deep flaw in the idea that a sea-going liner service, especially a wire tow, can be run like it was on a Swiss railroad schedule without regard for weather is much harder. Taking it a step further and actually implementing effective changes is harder still. So, just blame the captain and/or the unpredictable phenomenon known as weather and call it a day.

The industry never seems to learn from experience and continues to make the same “mistakes.” Just sweep it under the rug and keep on keepin’ on. Everyone knows that they run those boats in anything, weather be damned. Gotta stay on schedule, don’t ya’ know! If Signet is augmenting or substituting on those runs then it’s fair to presume that they’re also under the same pressure to go-go-go and keep to the schedule.

So whether it’s 1 wire or 2, an ATB, or a ship, it really doesn’t matter as long as people that ought to know better insist on having unrealistic expectations. There needs to be a more conservative approach: accepting the fact that “nature always bats last” and behaving accordingly is what will lessen the likelihood of these “Oh, gosh, who could possibly have seen this coming?” events from happening again and again. The Orville hook is a great tool, but in most cases it only comes into play after the lapses of judgment have already occurred.

Is there a direct connection here (strictly regarding operational safety attitudes) between the decisions that led to the lost tow and those that led to the awful fate of the El Faro? I think so. One just led to a much more news-worthy outcome than the other.

But don’t worry. Soon enough the public will be “educated” by Fox News to understand that it was all the fault of the Jones Act and Congress will fix it up in due course. D’oh!!!

Invader Class Crowley Tugs… One of the best designed towing vessels for it’s trade. Low slung, big HP , double drum, lots of chain for bridles. Watched them quite a few times go by me while hove to with a single wire and empty barge.

[QUOTE=captjacksparrow;170806]Yes, it would be good to hear more about this, but don’t count on it.

Every time I’ve seen one of the Invader-class tugs towing those barges it’s always been on 2 wires. But this isn’t the first time this has happened, and unless and until attitudes change significantly for the better it won’t be the last. Great sea-boats though the Invaders may be, there are limits to everything, and routinely operating near or at those limits increases the chances of things going wrong.

In Nov. 2009 the Sentry got caught by a wicked nor’easter, the remnants of Hurricane Ida, parted both 2-1/4" wires, and lost the La Princesa, which then drifted until it became an off-season tourist attraction on Virginia Beach.

http://www.professionalmariner.com/February-2010/Barge-drifts-100-miles-and-runs-aground-after-towlines-part/

Why? Not just because the captain “did not anticipate” getting caught from behind by the storm, as the Crowley spokesman so helpfully offered. Throwing the skipper under the bus is always easy. Manning-up and acknowledging that there is a deep flaw in the idea that a sea-going liner service, especially a wire tow, can be run like it was on a Swiss railroad schedule without regard for weather is much harder. Taking it a step further and actually implementing effective changes is harder still. So, just blame the captain and/or the unpredictable phenomenon known as weather and call it a day.

The industry never seems to learn from experience and continues to make the same “mistakes.” Just sweep it under the rug and keep on keepin’ on. Everyone knows that they run those boats in anything, weather be damned. Gotta stay on schedule, don’t ya’ know! If Signet is augmenting or substituting on those runs then it’s fair to presume that they’re also under the same pressure to go-go-go and keep to the schedule.

So whether it’s 1 wire or 2, an ATB, or a ship, it really doesn’t matter as long as people that ought to know better insist on having unrealistic expectations. There needs to be a more conservative approach: accepting the fact that “nature always bats last” and behaving accordingly is what will lessen the likelihood of these “Oh, gosh, who could possibly have seen this coming?” events from happening again and again. The Orville hook is a great tool, but in most cases it only comes into play after the lapses of judgment have already occurred.

Is there a direct connection here (strictly regarding operational safety attitudes) between the decisions that led to the lost tow and those that led to the awful fate of the El Faro? I think so. One just led to a much more news-worthy outcome than the other.

But don’t worry. Soon enough the public will be “educated” by Fox News to understand that it was all the fault of the Jones Act and Congress will fix it up in due course. D’oh!!![/QUOTE]

Back before the “smaller” barges were stretched, we towed all of the barges on the single wire. I understand that when those barges were stretched, there were issues and they went to towing with both wires. In my time with Crowley, the only time I recall towing with both wires was either on a tandem tow or when we towed one of the SL-7s for to Avondale for conversion.

I personally wouldn’t argue for or against 1 or 2 wires on the single tow. I’m speaking more to the issue of the “this is the route we have to take, this is the schedule we have to keep” mindset that keeps getting people into trouble. Whether it actually comes from the customer, the office, the master, or all of them, it’s not good.

In the normal day-to-day operations of a merchant vessel there are almost always other viable, and better, options besides “damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!”, especially when bad weather is present or may soon be.

99.9% of the time whatever it is we’re delivering really isn’t so important and/or time sensitive that it’s worth the risk of loss (of cargo or life).

It’s not like we’re routinely doing the work of the USS Indianapolis.

Office told the captain the weather be ok & to keep going. He wanted to stay south of hatters & wait. He lost the barge & got spanked for it.

[QUOTE=captjacksparrow;170937]I personally wouldn’t argue for or against 1 or 2 wires on the single tow. I’m speaking more to the issue of the “this is the route we have to take, this is the schedule we have to keep” mindset that keeps getting people into trouble. Whether it actually comes from the customer, the office, the master, or all of them, it’s not good.

In the normal day-to-day operations of a merchant vessel there are almost always other viable, and better, options besides “damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!”, especially when bad weather is present or may soon be.

99.9% of the time whatever it is we’re delivering really isn’t so important and/or time sensitive that it’s worth the risk of loss (of cargo or life).

It’s not like we’re routinely doing the work of the USS Indianapolis.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Indianapolis_(CA-35)[/QUOTE]

When we were making the run down from Lake Charles, they actually wanted us to slow down . . . the dock for the barge wasn’t usually available until Monday. . . Well, I heard that there were some captains that told their Chief Engineers to “start logging 750 RPM for engine speed, but I am keeping the engines in the corner”. . . ahem, not that I was witness to that. . . and oh, look. The tug and barge get to SJ on Saturday. . . .what to do. . . . of course I heard that this behavior was stopped when a fuel metering system that also recorded engine parameters was installed. . . . all rumors, to be sure. . .

On tugs, keeping the throttles “pinned” or “in the corner” as standard operating procedure is a widespread practice. Lots of downsides to it (enormous waste of fuel, much hotter engine room, shortened engine life, increased risk of mechanical failure, more vibration throughout the boat, more noise, beating on the boat, the crew and the tow, increased crew fatigue, greater risk of parting the wire, etc.), and very little upside in most cases (marginal increase in speed, usually).

Most who do it do so pretty much mindlessly out of habit because it’s what they were taught or they just never thought about it at all. Or they just like to go as fast as they can. Once the habit is acquired it’s very difficult to break, or be broken of. Captains that do it usually infect their mates with the same disease.

A combination of re-education and an efficient-operations-bonus system might turn the tide, but you need either farsighted, committed management and/or long-term sustained high fuel costs to force the issue.

barge landed in my back yard and I said that’s seems pretty cool fuck it im going to sea

[QUOTE=captjacksparrow;170958]On tugs, keeping the throttles “pinned” or “in the corner” as standard operating procedure is a widespread practice. Lots of downsides to it (enormous waste of fuel, much hotter engine room, shortened engine life, increased risk of mechanical failure, more vibration throughout the boat, more noise, beating on the boat, the crew and the tow, increased crew fatigue, greater risk of parting the wire, etc.), and very little upside in most cases (marginal increase in speed, usually).

Most who do it do so pretty much mindlessly out of habit because it’s what they were taught or they just never thought about it at all. Or they just like to go as fast as they can. Once the habit is acquired it’s very difficult to break, or be broken of. Captains that do it usually infect their mates with the same disease.

A combination of re-education and an efficient-operations-bonus system might turn the tide, but you need either farsighted, committed management and/or long-term sustained high fuel costs to force the issue.[/QUOTE]

You missed my point. . . but that’s okay.

[QUOTE=cmakin;170964]You missed my point. . . but that’s okay.[/QUOTE]

It sure sounds like he did!

I think I got your point: “unplanned” early arrival allows for extracurricular activities in San Juan on a Saturday night, and a good time was had by all. Si?

I just didn’t go there.

Lots of captains just run hard as a matter of course, with no particular reason, and everybody pays for it in one way or another.

[QUOTE=captjacksparrow;170958]On tugs, keeping the throttles “pinned” or “in the corner” as standard operating procedure is a widespread practice. Lots of downsides to it (enormous waste of fuel, much hotter engine room, shortened engine life, increased risk of mechanical failure, more vibration throughout the boat, more noise, beating on the boat, the crew and the tow, increased crew fatigue, greater risk of parting the wire, etc.), and very little upside in most cases (marginal increase in speed, usually).

Most who do it do so pretty much mindlessly out of habit because it’s what they were taught or they just never thought about it at all. Or they just like to go as fast as they can. Once the habit is acquired it’s very difficult to break, or be broken of. Captains that do it usually infect their mates with the same disease.

A combination of re-education and an efficient-operations-bonus system might turn the tide, but you need either farsighted, committed management and/or long-term sustained high fuel costs to force the issue.[/QUOTE]

You are so right about that. A lot of vessel owners and managers don’t know any better either. A lot of captains take these mangers too literally when they say “full ahead, make maximum speed.” It is the captain’s job to protect the crew, the boat and the company from these fools.

I’ve never worked on a boat where we keep the engines floored the whole trip, unless we need to to make an ETA or avoid a storm. On my current boat my captain and I try to find a good economical speed and run that as much as we can. We like to have a few extra turns left in the engines in case we need them.

Of course this is just what I have seen in my career.

Keeping extra turns in your back pocket is always a good idea, although I myself prefer more than just a few. Practicing a healthy restraint on the use of the throttles is commendable.

But ask yourself this: is running balls-out to make an ETA really a good idea? I don’t think it is. As for storm avoidance, every situation has to be evaluated individually, including (but not limited to) the age and condition of your vessel, it’s tow, and the capabilities of the entire crew. But as a general practice if you pin the mains, or simply push them harder than is good for them, you’re stacking the odds against yourself. Having some sort of failure while trying to outrun weather means you likely will be caught by that weather with your vessel now in a compromised condition to deal with that weather.

That’s not a position you want to be in.

no but sometimes a knot or two difference means making a tide/daylight restriction that would otherwise result in sometimes a 12 hour delay.

The policy that we had back in the day was to try to get to SJ as close to Monday as we could to minimize the time spent at a lay berth. . .most times that meant throttling back. . . .EMDs do not suffer by running full throttle. They are designed to run at 900 rpm for normal use as they are most often generator prime movers. . . for the return trip, we always had the engines in the corner. . . that would usually get us back to Lake Charles on Monday or Tuesday. . .the sailings were always on Friday evening.

Now they want you to come & go in one day. So arrive before 0700 labor & sail at 2200.

The person that posted it on FB said they were towing on one wire

[QUOTE=Tugted;171100]Now they want you to come & go in one day. So arrive before 0700 labor & sail at 2200.[/QUOTE]

Geez. . . two engineers so no OT, AND no time in SJ? Pfffffft. . . .