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Investigation Activity Report
MC93011836-M/V TERMINATOR COL/SINK/POL
Activity Start Date: Monday, January 27, 1992
MISLE Activity Number: 176186
MISLE Originating Unit: MSO SAN FRANCISCO BAY
MISLE Activity Owner: Commandant (CG-INV-3)
MISLE Activity Controller: Commandant (CG-INV-3)
MISLE Case Number: 965035

I. INCIDENT BRIEF
27JAN92, M/V TERMINATOR SANK AFTER COLLISION WITH M/V DOCK EXPRESS 20. TOTAL LOSS OF M/V TERMINATOR, AND NO DAMAGE TO M/V DOCK EXPRESS 20. CREW OF TERMINATOR ABANDONED VSL INTO LIFERAFT AND WERE RECOVERED. APPROX. 35,000 GAL OF #2 DIESEL FUEL ONBOARD TERMINATOR. 28JAN92, AIRSTA HUMBOLDT BAY OVERFLIGHT REVEALED 100 X 200 YARD LIGHT SHEEN IN VICINITY. 29JAN92 OVERFLIGHT AGAIN SIGHTED SHEEN...DISSIPATING, NOT FEASIBLE FOR CLEAN UP. Notify Date/Time= Jan 27 1992 @ 2029 Investigator = CHIEF INVESTIGATIONS Unit Command = CHIEF INVESTIGATIONS District Required? = N HQ Required? = N Last Updated in MSIS on Oct 26 1993 MCPD Discharge Details ***************************** Discharged by: TERMINATOR Chris Code: ODS Chemical Name: Oil: Diesel Type: Liquid Total Potential: 35000 Amount Spilled: 35000 Units: N/A The M/V TERMINATOR is an uninspected tug/tow boat documented in the U.S. for commercial use and owned by American Navigation Company of Richmond, California. The M/V Dock Express 20 is a multi-purpose vessel of Dutch Registry and owned by Dock-Express Shipping B.V. The owners of the M/V TERMINATOR apparently entered a contractual agreement to assist the M/V Dock Express 20 in the laying of certain fiber optic cable off the California Coast. On January 27, 1992 both vessels were operating off the California Coast. At approximately 6:15pm that same day the vessels collided; the impact caused a hole in the aft portion of the M/V TERMINATOR; the vessel began taking on water and sunk in 800 fathoms of water. Several factors contributed to the collision, and subsequent loss of the M/V TERMINATOR. Most of these are reflected in the MCDD chain of events; however several issues require elaboration in narrative form. The parting of the two inch cable at the Sampson braid necessitated that the M/V TERMINATOR make another approach to the M/V DOCK EXPRESS 20 to continue fulfilling her duties as the assist vessel. It is evident that the cable (or the braid) was of insufficient stregth to sustain the force exerted. A stronger rig may have prevented the entire incident by negating the need for a close quarters approach in bad weather by the M/V TERMINATOR. Shortly after completing her approach to the Dock Express 20, the M/V TERMINATOR lost the use of the center engine. The TERMINATOR is equipped with three engines and only a single (center line) rudder. The loss of the center engine substantially reduced the maneuverability of the TERMINATOR. At this point, the TERMINATOR was approximately 100-150ft abeam of the DOCK EXPRESS 2O. The operator of the TERMINATOR apparently recognized the loss of maneuverability and attempted to use the port and starboard engines in a twisting fashion to maneuver the vessel out of danger. During this time, the starboard engine tripped off-line. The seas were appoximately 15ft and were perpendicular (abeam) to the TERMINATOR. The DOCK EXPRESS 20 was restricted in its ability to maneuver as a result of its cable laying operation, and because of its size was much less affected by the seas. The net effect of the seas on the vessels was that it closed the distance between them. When the vessels collided the TERMINATOR was coming down off the crest of a swell, while the DOCK EXPRESS 20 was surging upwards from another wave. The stern area of the TERMINATOR struck the protruding sponson of the DOCK EXPRESS 20. The impact created a hole in the TERMINATOR's aft lazarette area. The incoming water had direct access to the shaft alley of the TERMINATOR. A watertight door separates shaft alley from the main engine compartment of the TERMINATOR. However, this watertight door was permanently affixed in the open position and required a cutting torch before it could be secured. This process took approximately 20 minutes, and even then, only slowed the water coming into the engine room. Personnel attempted to use pumps for de-watering. However, they operated only intermittently and were not equipped with an eductor. The apparent disregard of the need to have sufficient watertight integrity, and the lack of adequate de-watering equipment combined to make an unsafe condition. In addition, the aft peak tank and bilge were filled with concrete. Presumably the concrete was poured for stability. However, because the vessel was taking on water from the stern area the concrete added weight that could not be shifted to another area of the vessel. 46 Code of Federal Regulations, part 12.02-7 requires that every seaman employed on any merchant vessel of the U.S. of 100 GT or upward...posess a valid merchant mariners document(MMD). The M/V TERMINATOR is U.S. vessel of 199 GT and consequently the crew members were required to have valid MMD's. Mr. Norman Faber, and Mr. Gary Stookey admitted to not posessing MMD's. There is inconclusive evidence that the actions or inactions of these personnel contributed to the collision or to the sinking. However, Mr. Stookey indicated that he reached up and started the starboard engine. Engineer Robert Root contradicted the assertion of Mr. Stookey by stating that Stookey's attempt to re-start the starboard engine failed because he did not re-set both of the required switches. This attempt to re-start the starboard engine drained the starter air, and another attempt to re-start could not be initiated until the starter air had built up sufficient pressure. It is unclear whether the immediate re-start of the starboard engine would have preculuded a collision. However, it is clear that the owners, managers, and operator of the M/V TERMINATOR were not familiar with the regulatory requirements, or simply disregarded them. Either condition is unsatisfactory and means that two of the crew members did not demonstrate the minimal legal requirements of competency to serve aboard the M/V TERMINATOR. The order to abandon ship was given at approximately 1915 (one hour after the collision) by the operator Reino Maddila and was recommended by Chief Engineer Root. Approximately 15 minutes after abandoning ship, only the bow was visible and perhaps another 10 minutes elapsed until the vessel was completely underwater. I believe that the decision to abandon was both proper and timely. All five persons entered the life-raft. 4 of 5 were wearing survival suits and Chief Engineer Root was wearing a wet suit. One hour elapsed before being rescued by the M/V CRAIG FOSS (a nearby tug boat), which was diverted to assist by the M/V DOCK EXPRESS 20. A violation case has been processed for the pollution resulting from the sinking of the M/V TERMINATOR. In consideration of the pollution violation, the loss of the vessel, and the period of time since the occurance of the incident further violation action for failure to have MMD's for crew members is not warranted. This casualty was not a result of any actions or inactions on the part of the Coast Guard, or any personnel of the Coast Guard. Enclosures: (1) CG-2692 filed by Robert E. Whipple (2) IO interviews of M/V TERMINATOR personnel (3) Specifications and diagrams of M/V TERMINATOR

II. INCIDENT SUMMARY
This incident resulted in a discharge or substantial threat of discharge of oil. This report does not limit the discretion of the Director, NPFC, to determine facts, rights and liabilities with respect to any claims, submitted to or by the NPFC, for removal costs and damages under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990.
Incident Involved: Discharge of Oil
Level of Investigation: Pending Investigation
IMO Classification: Routine
USCG Classification: Major Marine Casualty
Was This a Serious Marine Incident? No
Was a Marine Board Convened by Commandant? No
Personal Casualty Summary Vessel(s) Status Summary Property Damage Summary
Total Missing: 0
Total Dead: 0
Total Injured: 0
At Risk, Not Injured: 0
Total Not at Risk: 11
Total at Risk: 0
Actual Total Loss(es): 1
Total Constructive Loss, Salvaged: 0
Total Constructive Loss, Unsalvaged: 0
Damaged: 0
Undamaged: 1

NO RECORDED DATA

III. ACTIONS IN REPONSE TO THIS REPORT
Actions on Recommendations:

NO RECORDED DATA
Safety Alerts:

NO RECORDED DATA

IV. FINDINGS OF FACT
Subjects of the Investigation
Involved Vessel(s) Involved Facilities

Vessel Name: TERMINATOR *
VIN: 256253
Role: Involved in a Marine Casualty

Vessel Name: DOCK EXPRESS 20
VIN: 8125064
Role: Involved in a Marine Casualty

NO RECORDED DATA
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Involved Parties Involved Organizations

Party Name: Removed for Privacy
Party Name: Removed for Privacy
Party Name: Removed for Privacy
Party Name: Removed for Privacy
Party Name: Removed for Privacy
Party Name: Removed for Privacy
Party Name: Removed for Privacy
Party Name: Removed for Privacy
Party Name: Removed for Privacy
Party Name: Removed for Privacy
Party Name: Removed for Privacy

NO RECORDED DATA
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Response Resources Waterway Segment(s)

NO RECORDED DATA

NO RECORDED DATA
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V. REFERRAL FOR ENFORCEMENT ACTION

NO RECORDED DATA
Last Update:
Monday, November 19, 2018