Ship Assist Tugs

This is what these guys do for a living:

Whether they were following on a slack line, or being towed, they were ready to do their job at very short notice.

PS> Don’t try this with an AHT, being towed backwards at 7+ kts.

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I think that an off take tanker approaching an FPSO at 7+ knots would have alarm bells ringing and set me up for a pink pills and peptide diet.

Probably, but it did happen and I investigated the resulting capsizing and sinking of the AHT Britoil 2 off India with the loss of 4 lives.

The Mooring Master did not understand the limitations of an AHT as he was used to handle big bulk carriers with ASD tugs.

The Master of the tug was an Indonesian and as you know they are reluctant to say NO, or to contest authority. By the time he eventually shouted, it was too late. He lost control and the tug breached. It got to abt 45 degr. list before capsizing, in approx. 45 sec. according to the crews on the tug and tanker.

The 3rd Eng. stood by the towing winch and knew how to hit the emergency release, but he did not; “because he was waiting for the tell him”. (He actually “walked the side” as the tug rolled and ended up on the keel, not even getting wet)

The were no quick release on the tanker, but the Bosun run into the galley and grabbed a cleaver to cut the polyprop rope. (Too late)

Before you ask; yes doors and hatches were closed.

By calculating backward we found that the tanker would have made at least 6.2 kts. through the water and made a turn at the time. This was confirmed by checking the 2nd Eng’s notebook and the 3rd Officers Bell book for the engine manoeuvres done on approach. (They were in a hurry to catch the slack tide)

If that had been me, or you, on that tug the Mooring Master would have been told in no uncertain terms that he had to slow down, but the Indonesian Tugmaster (whom I knew from before) was too polite to do so.He was one of those who died.

PS> When I eventually caught up with the tanker in another port in India they all had prepared their statement and all had observed the speed to be 2.68 kts. OG. When I pointed out that there were 1,8 kts. current against the Superintended from SCI that accompanied me started to look worried. When I asked for the notebook, E/R rough log and the Bell book he thought it was time to take a coffee break.

So yes, sh*t happens and not only in India.