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NTSB Rules on Crane Contact Incident at Grain Facility

Lack of signalman caused incident at Zen-Noh Grain in November 2020

On Tuesday, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued Marine Accident Brief 21/20 for its investigation into the contact of a bulk carrier’s crane with a grain facility in Convent, LA, in November 2020.

The contact occurred on Nov. 11, 2020, while a bulk vessel was completing corn loading operations at the Zen-Noh Grain Corp. (ZGC) facility with its number 1 crane boom.

The vessel’s crew was removing a payloader from the number 1 cargo hold, which had been filled. A Zen-Noh employee attached the crane hook to the payloader and then walked out of view of the crane operator.

The crane operator, without the assistance of a signalman or spotter, hoisted the payloader out of the cargo hold.

As the crane operator continued to lower the crane boom, still without the aid
of a signalman or spotter on the vessel or pier, the boom tip contacted and penetrated the shoreside facility’s number 3 runway between towers numbers 3 and 4.

Before removing the boom tip from the runway, staff on scene completed
an initial damage assessment and took measures to temporarily support the runway. The crane boom remained in place while the ZGC assessed the damage. It was dislodged the following day by the movement of a passing vessel and then stowed by the crew.

There were no injuries reported, and the vessel’s crane was undamaged. The top structural beam of the runway suffered localized deformation where the boom tip made contact. In addition, angle bracing near the area of impact was damaged. The corrugated tin sheets that enclosed the runway below the point of impact were also damaged.

ZGC estimated the total cost to repair the damage was more than $480,00.

The facility returned to operation at a reduced loading rate on November
15 and increased to their normal loading rate two days later on November 17, 2020.

The NTSB report noted the probable cause of the contact was the absence of a dedicated signalman, which led to the ship’s crane operator’s misjudgment of the location of the crane boom while lowering the payloader to the pier.

Read the full report here.

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