OK, that’s embarrassing

It seems a Marshall Islands-registered tanker, the MT Swan Biscay, ran aground in the Cape Fear River in North Carolina last month.  Judging by this footage from a security camera, there was no-one on the bridge or at the wheel when she did so – or, if they were, they were concentrating on anything but doing their jobs!

She can’t have been too badly damaged, because she was refloated very quickly, and at last check was over in Europe.  She probably ran onto a mud- or sandbank, and didn’t hole her hull.



  1. If you look closely you can see his forward anchors are dropped. Probably a power failure to both the screws and the steering gear.

  2. Appears they had a mechanical failure.


    "Tanker loses propulsion, grounds in Cape Fear River

    An oil tanker ran aground in the Cape Fear River near Wilmington, N.C., and authorities blamed the incident on a propulsion issue.

    Crew aboard the Marshall Islands-flagged Swan Biscay reported the grounding at about 1250 on Nov. 4, the Coast Guard said. The tanker remained stuck near Buoy 19 until about 1600 that afternoon.

    "There appears to have been a loss of propulsion," Coast Guard spokesman Joshua Canup, who is based in Virginia, said in an email.

    No one was injured and there was no pollution. The 426-foot ship was not damaged. Additional information about the incident was not available. Norstar Shipping is listed as the 9-year-old ship's manager. It did not respond to inquiries about the incident."

    If the engine was the problem, they were using the residual forward motion to steer into the shallows. If the steering gear was the problem, they would have gone to minimum RPM's and done the same thing to stay out of the channel.

  3. You can see the mud being displaced by the bow underwater extension. That seems to keep that design from digging in as the old straight stem profile would. Then again, since it wasn't cutting a trench, it wasn't stuck, and the momentum allowed it to swing broadside to the shore. Not sure if that is an improvement. Probably depends on current weather conditions.

  4. Many diesel systems will shut down upon certain conditions to protect the engine. With increased automation and decreased manning requirements (and the Marshall Islands being a notorious Flag-Of-Convenience registry), coupled with the European penchant for ignoring environmental, safety, and labor laws when they think no one is looking, this sort of thankfully minor event is inevitable. There aren't enough people on most ships to have an off-watch crew while they're in pilotage waters. 3rd world manning at 3rd world wages gets you 3rd world crew, and I wish that the owners may relish it.

    As Will noted, they are VERY fortunate to be on soft bottom. Had this happened to the north, at the very least the bulbous bow and possibly the forepeak would have been breached to sea.

  5. BTW, anyone look closely at that pier in front of the camera?
    That is probably for the home with the camera. There is a fair sized outboard motorboat hoisted up on the T-section. Appears that the tanker steered to hit between these private piers. Might have gotten expensive, otherwise.

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