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Post How To Get Your Oil Tanker Unstuck
Created by John Eipper on 08/22/20 3:49 AM

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How To Get Your Oil Tanker Unstuck (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy, 08/22/20 3:49 am)

Many thanks for your comments on my post of 20 August.

In the case of an oil tanker going aground on sandbars, really it is not that bad, as generally the hull is not cracked but only bent.

Therefore if the hull is intact and after checking the depth of water all around the vessel, it may be possible to change the trim of the vessel, moving the cargo/ballast and using the ship's own engines to get out.

If that is not successful, it is possible to try to be pulled out by tugs.  And if that is not successful, it is necessary to call in another vessel to lighten the grounded ship.

Running aground, even if a pilot is on board, is not good for one's career.  Just to be on the safe side I had insurance on my license.  Once I told the President/CEO of my company that I had this insurance but I believed that with such a great company behind me it was no longer necessary. The honest marvelous President, an ex-captain on US tankers, told me: "Captain, you did the right thing, as the interests of the Company may go against your interests."

About the foreign crews I mentioned in my previous post, let me tell you something:

Once I traveled as inspector on one of our ships with an Asian crew to the Orkneys. During the trip, it was necessary to change ballast from dirty to clean.  This is a relatively easy and routine procedure. But during the night in which it was performed, I had a bad feeling even though everything seemed correct during a previous check.  So I went on deck. The sea was almost at the level of the main deck! The chief mate was such a damned fool that he was loading heavy ballast (bad weather had been forecasted) without discharging the dirty ballast and the vessel was almost ready to sink from overloading. Immediately I ran to explain the correct action to take and no problems followed.

In my final report, I did not mention the incident. Anyway said crews were not up to our standards and the crews were replaced by Koreans.

Generally, the Asian crew members give a very good impression, as they move in a military style with the proper (company-supplied) safety helmets, shoes, and overalls. They stick to the rules on eating and resting times, and if something is broken they repair it with the correct spare part.  But if there are no spare parts on board, there is no repair.

On the contrary, the Italians do not move to work like an SS squad, and instead of a helmet they prefer a normal cap, no overalls but a T-shirt.  However, if it is necessary to do a "colpo di mano" (sleight of hand) they are always (if properly motivated) ready to forget sleep, to eat only a sandwich or to forego shore leave.  Furthermore, if something is broken and the spare part is missing there is always some engineer/ mechanic who will be able to perform a makeshift fix.

JE comments:  Useful advice, Eugenio!  When I run the WAIS HQ 20-foot pontoon aground, it's usually enough to jump out and push.  Don't try this with a 100,000-ton tanker. 

I was telling Aldona about your travels up the Orinoco, and she asked if you encountered any exotic animals.  Birds?  Huge fish?  Crocodiles?

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