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Heavy weather damage - near casualty

Course of events
The ship was struck by a freak wave in a North Atlantic winter storm. It sustained substantial damage to the forward deck area and stores areas, leading to flooding of the forward compartments. The vessel proceeded safely, but with a heavy forward trim, to a port of safe refuge for survey and repairs.

Extent of damage
The following damage was noted: The forward compartment access dog house had its watertight door torn off and washed overboard, resulting in flooding of the entire forward space from the keel and up to the main deck. The stores hatch cover was torn open, breaking the dogs and was formed around the hatch coaming by water pressure. The ventilator at the base of the forward mast was damaged beyond repair. Two small goose neck ventilators in the forward area were damaged by distortion. The starboard ballast tank vent head received minor damage. Below the deck, inside the stores area, all machinery and equipment were flooded. The paint locker fire door was badly distorted and torn off its hinges. The emergency fire pump diesel engine was damaged including its wiring harness, starting batteries, and various other accessories.

Probable cause
Under the extreme weather conditions extensive amounts of green sea hit the forecastle deck. There are, however, indications that the condition of the equipment may have contributed significantly to the extent of damage and its consequences. It is considered to be of utmost importance to provide regular and good maintenance, especially for vessels trading in these weatherexposed areas, in particular with respect to the maintenance of the cleats for the access hatches and the closing dogs for the watertight doors. The forecastle, being the most weather and sea- exposed area on the ship, is hardly accessible under conditions as the above. The crew is often forced to wait until the weather has improved to carry out temporary remedial actions. This may result in extensive secondary damage, and even danger to the ship as the increased forward draft may become a critical factor when the vessel is in a fully loaded condition.

Lessons to be learned
The equipment on deck should be kept well maintained and in good working order so as

to prevent water ingress in the foreship (forecastle, forepeak, hold no.1) following heavy weather damage to closing appliances and/or deck structures. The exposed forecastle deck, of course is especially vulnerable, where: All closing appliances for openings into the hull should be subject to regular inspection and maintenance, particularly when trading in waters where heavy weather may be expected. Locking devices for access hatches and doors should be kept in good working order so that unintended opening, due to green seas, is greatly reduced. Condition and clamping devices of air and sounding pipes should also be subject to regular follow-up by the ship's crew, as internal corrosion and inadequate clamping may turn out to be critical. DNV has established a project (Fore end watertight integrity) to investigate classification requirements and survey methods for possible improvements. The International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) is also investigating the issue.