Accident sur l'Hudson river, à Albany, 9 décembre 2003.
Plan du site

Un aimable correspondant m'a fait parvenir cet article accompagné de photos, relatant l'accident arrivé au "Stellamare", à Albany, sur la rivière Hudson, au mois de décembre. Ce transporteur de colis lourd chargeait par ses propres moyens des générateurs électriques de 250 tonnes chacun. L'opération est complexe et nécessite des mouvements de ballasts coordonnés avec la manipulation des colis, pour maintenir le navire droit. Le premier colis avait été embarqué, mais au cours du hissage du deuxième quelque chose s'est mal passé et le navire a chaviré brusquement.

Sur les 18 hommes d'équipage, 8 ont été récupérés dans l'eau glacée, 7 ont été récupérés à bord, 3 ont disparus.

Le navire a été redressé et renfloué par deux gigantesques pontons grues.

Subject: FW: Cernavoda U2 generator stator: a lift goes wrong

Cernavoda U2 generator stator now resting on the bottom of Hudson river

We are still shocked about what happened but will try to describe as accurately as possible the accident.

Today December 9, around 10:30 a.m. ( local time) we went to Albany port in order to witness the Stator assembly loading as well as checking that all crates mentioned into the Shipment Definition List. The stator assembly was on the rail car and the port team was installing the trunnions.

Around one o'clock p.m. the rail car was brought close to the vessel for loading. In the vessel was already loaded another generator for ENEL Italy. As a matter a fact when discussed with the crew leader to understand the route (first to Constanta and then to Italy) he mentioned that in order to allow a proper balancing when downloading it have to go first to Constanta.

This fact began to have a real meaning to us after what happened. Around 2 p.m. the loading preparation did start. After the slings were hooked to the trunnions to started the lifting process. After some time we have noticed that the process is very slow. Did ask the crew leader what is the reason and he mentioned that due to the vessel crane configuration (leaning beyond the vessel boundary) the vessel has to be counter balanced by flooding some compartments, and this takes time.

As you can see from the attached pictures # 224 and 226 the time between downloading start and real lifting from the rail car is more than 1 hour. This I believe gives a clear picture on the process difficulty. Before starting the lifting during the balancing process we noticed that the vessel was leaning towards the shore, as a consequence of the distance between the vessel axis and the generator one.

After starting the lift the vessel begun to come slowly to its horizontal position and reach this status when the stator assembly was almost clearing the rail car (see pict. 228). From this point the stator was lifted up (approx 2m) for vessel trunk loading. We think that the maneuvering speed was much higher than before. Personally we were expecting to be somehow closer to the previous one.

Immediately after the stator was clearing the dock the vessel starts leaning the opposite side towards the Hudson river and in couple of seconds flipped over and pulled very fast by the stator weight. We were afraid that the vessel would sink completely into the river. It was not like that, but still there are three missing persons from the crew and some others hospitalized with hypothermia. Beside that the surveyor hired by GE to witness the activity who was on the vessel during the accident to take pictures is now in the hospital too.





Suite: le renflouement

The 289-foot Stellamare, flagged in the Dutch Antilles, had loaded 661 tons of General Electric steel turbines bound for Italy and Romania, Albany Mayor Gerald Jennings said. The ship tipped over as a 308-ton generator was being loaded around 3:10 p.m. Tuesday, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. Eight members of the 18-person crew were removed from the river, Miller said. Seven others were rescued from the ship, some by helicopter. One crew member was upgraded to serious condition, and another to fair condition, at Albany Medical Center, hospital officials said. One man was treated and released.

Three crew members remained missing after the cargo ship listed and partially sank at the Port of Albany at about 3 p.m. Tuesday. The accident involving the Stellamare tossed several men into the icy waters of the Hudson River and prompted the Coast Guard to close the river, left the ship tilted at a 50-degree angle, and may have killed three seamen.

The ship's 18-man crew was loading the second of two General Electric generators, each weighing roughly 250 tons, when the boat listed to port, rolled and became partially submerged in about 30 feet of water. Several crewmen had to be pulled from the frigid river.

"When they picked up the piece and started to move it over the hatch, the ship started to lean and it got away from them," said Paul Fisher, a retired foreman with the port's longshoremen's crew who said he spoke with a dozen of his former colleagues after the accident. "Somebody screwed up." Fisher said longshoremen often operate the cranes aboard ship, but never on the Stellamare, which typically has a highly regarded crew skilled with the cranes.

On Tuesday, two Stellamare crane operators were working the shipboard cranes in tandem, coordinated by a chief officer or captain via radio, he said. Longshoremen were aboard the ship to observe the lift, but did not direct it or operate the cranes, he said. "When you work by sight, hand signals are universal and everyone understands them," Fisher said. "The radio must have caused the communication breakdown."

Generators loaded onto the ship are usually placed on a metal holding platform, then welded into place to prevent shifting, said Deacon Dick Walker of the Albany Maritime Ministry. The boat, bound for Italy and Romania, was already holding 600 tons of cargo when it started taking on water, said Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings. The Stellamare is owned by Jumbo Shipping Co., a worldwide shipping company.

Eyewitnesses recount ship's silent roll:

Carson Rock, a ship's cook from Barbados, dashed on deck of the Columbia as the adjacent Stellamare tilted dangerously low toward the Hudson River, at the Port of Albany. He'd sailed the world for 28 years, but he'd never seen anything like this.

Seventy-five yards away, two of the Stellamare's cranes had lifted what looked to Rock like an engine, the size of a railroad car, over the middle of the ship.

When it got to the center, said crew members on the Columbia, a 330-foot channel dredger docked just south, the 289-foot Stellamare began to roll slowly, almost silently, and turn away from the dock, sinking on its side in the ice-choked waters of the Hudson River.

The capsizing cargo ship flung one man operating the crane into the water. He wore a heavy orange jacket, but no flotation vest, crew mates said. As the man gripped a chunk of wood in the river, the crane operator clung to Stellamare's hull.

With one man in the water and one clinging to the hull, the Columbia's crew raced into action. Capt. Stephen Taylor called the tug Rhea I. Bouchard, docked about 400 yards south, across the Hudson. Mones, a mate from New Orleans, and another man grabbed a litter used to retrieve men who fall overboard. Others leapt from their own ship onto the docks and headed for the Stellamare. Anyone trapped in the 32 water wouldn't have much time.

"I don't think they had the ballast set right," said Ron Cross, a welder and independent contractor who'd helped detach the two giant General Electric generators from a rail car that afternoon.

One generator was in the hold when he ship rolled, Cross said. The other, slightly heavier unit was on the ship's crane. The ship was big enough to handle the cargo, he added, "but it's the smallest ship I've seen here for a (load) that big."

Authorities will resume their search for three missing crew members after a Dutch cargo ship turned partly on its side on the Hudson River while steel turbines were being loaded. Fifteen others were rescued, with some suffering hypothermia.

Officials also said that weight limits didn't appear to be exceeded, so another big part of this operation is trying to find out exactly what went wrong.