The U.S. Coast Guard Chris Gunsten and Bill Hanson of GLDD Ray Bergeron and Bill Benson contributed information for this story.
The Great Lakes Dredge and Dock (GLDD) excavator dredge New York was struck by the tanker Orange Sun on Thursday January 24. The collision occurred north of Shooters Island in Newark Bay.
The New York was preparing to begin dredging on the Newark Bay 50-foot Deepening Project No. 4 and the tug Melvin Lemmerhirt was in the process of landing a dump scow just before 2 p.m. The 669-foot Orange Sun had unloaded orange juice concentrate nearby and was outbound on its return to Florida accompanied by tugs when it veered toward the dredge and moments later hit the New York.
Lemmerhirt Captain Bobby Peterson saw the ship coming and warned dredge operator Mike Cuthbert in time for him to alert the crew to brace for the impact.
There were no injuries to the seven crew members on the New York or to the 20 Orange Sun crew members.
The collision was captured by a Coast Guard video camera at an undisclosed location. The camera had just panned past the dredge when the operator saw the ship approaching the dredge and panned back to the dredge catching the entire incident on film.
It shows the ship hitting the dredge amidships on the port side causing it to heel violently on the starboard spud. The dredge is heeling away from the ship at first. This is thought to be because of the bulbous bow under the waterline pushing the dredge away. The ship’s bow then slides along the side of the dredge which rights itself after the collision.
The video can be viewed on line at:
Prior to the incident the New York’s crew was preparing to begin dredging and the excavator arm and bucket were still on deck.
Chris Gunsten GLDD project manager arrived from the company’s offices on Staten Island soon after the incident and together with the crew began disaster response procedures mandated by the Corps of Engineers.
New York Captain Phil Sanzone had just gone off shift but returned to the dredge immediately to help coordinate the disaster response.
|!|Everyone conducted themselves extremely professionally and acted with expedience. This is a tribute to everyone involved|!| said one observer.
Following the collision Peterson moored the scow to the dredge providing emergency flotation. Within the hour a second scow had been landed to provide additional buoyancy.
The collision ripped a gash in the dredge and damaged the starboard and stern spuds. The 200-foot-long dredge began taking on water and going down bow first but the damaged spuds held it up when the bow (excavator) end was partially submerged.
Divers from commercial diving company Randive Inc. of New Jersey did the initial inspection of both the New York and the Orange Sun allowing the Orange Sun to move to the Southern Bay Ridge Anchorage.
The underwater survey of the New York revealed a 17-foot-long crescent-shaped rupture in the hull on the port side and flooding in several forward compartments. During the next few days Randive and Brady Marine crews created temporary patches and cofferdams to stop the water incursion so the dredge could be re-floated. (See story in this issue for a detailed description and pictures of Randive’s salvage job.)
That evening as workers labored to save the dredge shipping had resumed in the channel and the wakes of passing tugs were washing onto the deck of the New York and into the open hatches the crews were trying to pump. The Coast Guard brought its cutter Sturgeon Bay and set it up next to the dredge to block the wakes and also monitored the traffic with Coast Guard response boats to ensure the safety of all working on the dredge.
The day after the collision Donjon Marine Co. Inc. Hillside New Jersey provided the heavy-lift crane barge Chesapeake 1000 and the clamshell dredge Newark Bay to assist in stabilizing the New York during emergency repairs.
Donjon welders removed the damaged starboard and stern spuds which could not be raised.
By Saturday February 2 the dredge had been stabilized. Coast Guard inspectors did a walk-through and pronounced the dredge safe to sail.
Five crew members from Great Lakes Dredge and Dock accompanied the New York during its 13-mile transit to the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Several other vessels assisted in the transit including the Great Lakes Dredge and Dock vessels the McCormack Boys and the Melvin Lemmerhirt and the contracted commercial tug the Launch North Star. The Coast Guard Cutter Ridley an 87-foot patrol boat from Montauk New York and Sector New York personnel were also on scene during the transit to ensure safety.
A unified command with representatives from the Great Lakes Dredge and Dock LLC Coast Guard Sector New York New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NY DEC) New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJ DEP) and the vessel Orange Sun formed to monitor the repair and recovery of the damaged dredge after the collision on the day of the incident.
|!|We’re happy to have completed the salvage and transit operations safely and we’re looking forward to expediting our repairs and returning the New York to work as quickly as possible|!| said Chris Gunsten contract manager for Great Lakes Dredge and Dock.
He estimated that repairs would take several months. In the interim the clamshell dredge No. 53 is working on the contract which at this time involves soft material suitable for a clamshell.
|!|The entire operation from the first report being received by Sector New York’s Vessel Traffic Center to the completion of a tricky dredge transit this morning demonstrates how successfully a unified command structure can function when people of good will come together to ameliorate what could have become an environmental nightmare|!| said Capt. Robert O’Brien Coast Guard Captain of the Port of New York on February 2. |!|This two-week-old case illustrates the effectiveness of the Coast Guard’s new operational command structure when all its components — operations marine safety and state-of-the-art communications equipment — are located in one unit. Response time coherence and mission success are greatly enhanced.|!|
|!|Sector New York will work closely with all its port partners to learn from this collision and be even more effective in future maritime events|!| said O’Brien.
Hydraulic fluid leaked from the New York but no other spillage resulted from the crash. The dredge was carrying approximately 3000 gallons of hydraulic oil 50000 gallons of main diesel fuel and 1000 gallons of lubricating oil at the time of the collision.
Crews from GLDD deployed booming equipment around the vessel as a precaution immediately after the incident. As an additional precautionary measure Ken’s Marine was contracted by GLDD to deploy booms around Shooter’s Island Newark Channel the Elizabeth Channel and Singer Flat due to sensitive environments and wildlife in those areas.
A Coast Guard Sector New York Shoreline Cleanup Assessment Team (SCAT) conducted a survey in the vicinity of the Bayonne Bridge and Staten Island at 8 a.m. the morning after the collision and reported minimal sheen in the water.
There were no reports of impact to the waterfowl fish or aquatic vegetation in the vicinity of the collision as a result of the incident.
Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod and Atlantic City helicopter crews conducted over-flights of the collision site immediately after the collision Thursday and at 10 a.m. Friday. Both over-flights reported a light sheen coming from the dredge as well as in the vicinity of Shooters Island Port Newark and Port Elizabeth. A second layer of booming equipment was deployed by Ken’s Marine around the dredge as a result of the over-flights.
The Liberian flagged vessel Orange Sun owned by Arctic Reefer Corporation in Monrovia Liberia and operated by Atlanship Switzerland was outbound at the time of the incident. After the collision the vessel was escorted to the Southern Bay Ridge Anchorage in New York Harbor. A Captain of the Port Order was issued for the vessel requiring a specified classification society to verify that the vessel is fit for route and service as well as to provide a dive survey assessing any damage that might have been done to the vessel. The Orange Sun has since left the Southern Bay Ridge Anchorage to continue its outbound voyage to Florida. The specified classification society verified that it was fit for route and service. The vessel entered a dry dock in Florida where repairs are being made.