NTSB releases report on 2020 ship crane incident in Convent, Louisiana

GH Storm Cat berthed at Cork, Ireland, in May 2020 (Photo: MarineTraffic.com/joe moore)

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recently issued a marine accident brief for its investigation into the contact of a bulk carrier’s crane with a grain facility in Convent, Louisiana.

The contact occurred on November 11, 2020, while the Marshall Islands-flagged bulk vessel GH Storm Cat was completing corn loading operations at the Zen-Noh Grain Corporation facility with its number one crane boom.

The vessel’s crew was removing a payloader from the number one cargo hold, which had been filled. A Zen-Noh Grain Corporation employee attached the crane hook to the payloader and then walked out of view of the crane operator.

The crane operator, without the assistance of a signalman or spotter, hoisted the payloader out of the cargo hold. While lowering the crane boom to land the payloader on the pier, the boom tip penetrated the shoreside facility runway.

The NTSB said no injuries or pollution were reported. However, the contact resulted in more than US$480,000 worth of damage to the shoreside conveyor gallery.

The NTSB determined the probable cause of the contact was the absence of a dedicated signalman, which led to the crane operator’s misjudgment of the location of the crane boom while lowering the payloader to the pier.

“All ship’s lifts—no matter how routine—should be adequately planned and risk assessed,” the report said. “All personnel involved in the lifting operation should be clearly identified and their duties understood before the start of the lift.”

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