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SS C. V. SEA WITCH - SS ESSO BRUSSELS (Belgium); Collision and Fire in New York Harbor on 2 June 1973 with Loss of Life.
Marine casualty rept.
COAST GUARD WASHINGTON D C
Pagination or Media Count:
On 2 June 1973, the SS C.V. SEA WITCH lost steering control in New York harbor. The ship moved out of the channel and struck and penetrated the anchored Belgian tankship SS ESSO BRUSSELS which was loaded with crude oil. The 31,000 barrels of oil from three ruptured tanks ignited and the resulting fire engulfed both ships. The master and two crewmembers died aboard the SEA WITCH. The master and ten crewmembers of the ESSO BRUSSELS died after abandoning ship, one crewmember died aboard ship, and one crewmember is missing. Some nearby beaches were polluted, and damage to the ships and cargo amounted to about 23 million. The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause was a mechanical failure in the steering system of the SEA WITCH and the lack of adequate and timely action by the crew to control their ship after the failure occurred. The cause of the loss of steering was the deficient design of the system which did not provide two separate and independent steering control systems as required by 46 CFR 58.25. The cause of the fire, pollution, and deaths after the collision was that the typically designed bow of the SEA WITCH penetrated the hull of the ESSO BRUSSELS instead of absorbing the crash energy.
APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE