S/V Concordia

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by marshmat, Feb 23, 2010.

  1. marshmat
    Joined: Apr 2005
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    marshmat Senior Member

    S/V Concordia sinks off Brazil

    The 57-metre tall ship S/V Concordia capsized and sank off the coast of Brazil last Wednesday. Reports have indicated that all 64 students and crew survived.

    I will shamelessly copy-paste some more detailed accounts of what happened from the news services, as hotlinks to newspapers tend to die after a week.

    Canadian Press report:
    From http://www.thestar.com/news/world/article/768879
    From http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/article/769931--teens-recall-terrifying-ordeal-after-ship-sinks
    Any thoughts?
     
  2. Doug Lord
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    Doug Lord Flight Ready

    Lucky everybody made it!
     
  3. bistros

    bistros Previous Member

    Looks like the crew was reasonably well trained, although the rafts did not work as intended. Getting life rafts inspected and reviewing their condition is a pain and expensive, but it really brings things into focus seeing how they partially failed in expected use. Also have to wonder why there wasn't a charged and prepped SatPhone, GPS and spare EPIRB in their Go-bag(s). First thing prepped on leaving offshore should be a Go-bag.

    Imagining rough seas and dark would take this from a bad situation to a much worse one.

    No one talks about sitting in feces and vomit during safety briefings, perhaps that is a good point to bring up. Got to wonder why the EPIRB response was so slow.

    It would be interesting to see a stability curve for the hull in it's actual usage configuration. There can't be much secondary stability there. It also is pretty apparent they left all the companionways open during weather.

    It would be interesting to know how bad the weather was up to the microburst (if that is actually what happened). As things go bad, there should be incremental and inflexible preparations for trouble. Microbursts don't generally occur in clear air and sunny skies.

    When you are offshore, you can't plan on fast response times from whatever country you are near. Getting upset with Brazil for slow response just doesn't seem warranted.

    --
    Bill
     
  4. marshmat
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    marshmat Senior Member

    It would certainly be interesting to see more information on the ship itself- specifically, stability data as you suggest, Bill.

    From what Captain Curry has said on the record so far, it sounds as if the ship's normal procedures to prepare for heavy weather had already been followed. I don't know what this vessel's procedures entailed.

    Reports that the windows gave way in the knockdown are worrying. Shouldn't this be well within design conditions for windows on an ocean-going vessel?

    Also worth noting is that the ship's radio gear was apparently destroyed in the knockdown. They would have been out of handheld VHF range, for sure, but was there no backup long-range communication equipment other than the EPIRB?

    The Brazilian navy is reportedly investigating why there was such a long delay (I heard 19 hours, but this may not be accurate) between the EPIRB signal being received and search/rescue crews being alerted.

    The fact that all the crew and passengers apparently had exposure suits, and knew how to use them, is certainly an important point. Also worth noting is that the survivors' accounts seem to agree that abandon-ship procedures were followed in a co-ordinated, reasonably orderly fashion, despite the panic and chaos.
     
  5. Autodafe
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    Autodafe Senior Member

    The crew and passengers did a good job by all accounts.
    Follow up stories seem focused on SAR delay, but I'm more curious about the sinking.

    Some sources estimate positive stability of at least 130degrees, but why bother if downflooding from the windows occurs at 70 degrees?
    For a vessel of that size I would expect the design wave loading on the ports to be higher than the heeled hydrostatic pressure anyway?
    Curious, but I dare say that it will be a long time (if ever) before a conclusion is published.
     
  6. idkfa
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    idkfa Senior Member

    It seems like a small volume to sacrifice, to fit buoyancy tanks, bow and stern, sufficiently larger to stop sinking? I know it is not done but why? Why is lost of life so accepted? Wonder what the survivors, even though they all made it, would think of such a retrofit?
     
  7. bistros

    bistros Previous Member

    Not having drawings in front of me, I'd still assume that there are at least three if not more full bulkheads capable of being sealed on the hull, providing the same effect. With the ports failing under immersion pressure, sealed bulkheads are useless.

    Maintenance of older hulls is problematic and expensive. Often, things like ports needing updates are out of production, and original equipment quality replacement parts are not available. At this point the yard usually substitutes parts they think/guess should be suitable. I've seen this done repeatedly. It would be very interesting to see if the failed ports met the original engineering specifications. I bet they don't.

    Somewhere in the life of most durable products the intent and design of the original engineers get lost and people start guessing at maintenance instead of researching for the right answers. Often original drawings, specifications and requirements are lost. I've got friends here locally who are maintenance design engineers for military aircraft, and you would not believe the level of documentation and testing necessary to keep parts going on 30 year old Hercules airframes while still meeting current design spec.

    In a civilian market like boating, the chance for tolerances and specifications creeping cheaper and weaker is irresistible in light of the staggering costs of staying original equipment. As far as I know, France has some pretty tough standards for recreational craft, and they may be worth other countries looking at. Especially in today's marketplace where people are buying cruise-capable designs on the distressed used market for less than the cost of a new race ready Laser dinghy.

    Since the incident happened outside Canadian waters and jurisdiction, I wonder who is going to investigate and how deep the inquiry will dig. Since there was no loss of life and emergency procedures obviously worked, they may not dig deep enough to find out why things failed.

    I hope we all can learn from this.

    --
    Bill
     
  8. Hunter25
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    Hunter25 Senior Member

    Floation compartments on 170' vessels are not practical to say the least. Buoyancy chambers on anything over a trailer sailor are not a practical option, so the hull is divided into compartments, with an expected down flooding requirement. This assumes you have the time to dog down hatches and get her sealed up, which they did not seem to have in this incident. These sort of things happen. Boats can be suddenly knocked on their beam ends and the thoughts of a student crew were to get out, not close water tight doors, so the boat sank. Had this been a well trained naval vessel, she would have survived her knock down and probably been saved. Not all vessels can operate with this level of crew efficiency.
     
  9. bistros

    bistros Previous Member

    From the posted accounts and those I've found online, crew efficiency does not appear to be a problem. There does appear to be problems with policies, procedures and practices. Miserable stuffy humid accommodations are tough school teaching venues, and the temptation to open companionways and ventilation is almost irresistible. Balancing livable below deck conditions in humid tropical areas versus sealing the compartments for inclement weather is where the major weakness lies. Bad choices were made in setting the policies, not in execution of them.

    --
    Bill
     
  10. idkfa
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    idkfa Senior Member

    Lets say sunk displacement is 5 to 8 times (guesstimate) sailing displacement. Then if we had fore and aft bulkheads that extended inwards 10 to 6% of LOA, that could be used for limited storage but not living space. They could only be opened briefly with signed permission of authority.

    Short of collision with an iceberg, could we not achieve zero loss at sea? On smaller vessels out of GRP, apart from diagonal breakaway bows, the forward bulkhead compartment could be filled with polyurethane foam so they could survive the GRP splitting, bulkhead detaching, ie. impact with a floating shipping container.

    This loss of volume/haulage is an acceptable cost for safety, some of which would be offset by lower insurance premiums. I think owners will accept to prevent loss of crew, if not, then they are heartless businessmen and need regulation.

    I really think it is reckless to design boats will sink if flooded; lost keel, holed, knocked down etc.. Short of supertankers and aircraft-carriers.
     
  11. Hunter25
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    Hunter25 Senior Member

    You and Loveofsea would get along just fine. With some internal volume calculations averaged on a handful of vessels all over say 50' you will soon realize how much internal space you have to surrender to buoyancy compartments to keep them from sinking. On sailing vessels with 40%+ of their displacement in ballast, you would have nearly zero internal space for crew and accommodations. BTW super tankers and aircraft carriers can easily take a hole, a big hole and continue cruising along while they make repairs underway. They don't have buoyancy chambers either.
     
  12. marshmat
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    marshmat Senior Member

    Compartmentalization has long been the accepted approach to ensuring adequate damaged stability in larger craft. And with good reason- properly done, compartmentalization is very good at containing any damage. (Somebody tell Captain Kirk about this next time the Starship Enterprise loses all of deck nine to a single hull breach.) Buoyancy compartments or foam just aren't feasible in larger sizes, but watertight doors and bulkheads are.

    Watertight compartments aren't much good, though, if the doors between them are open or if the ship can easily downflood if knocked down. I don't know about the below-decks situation on the Concordia, but it does appear that she downflooded very quickly in the knockdown.

    To quote John & Phyllis of Morgan's Cloud ( http://www.morganscloud.com/index.html ):
    Priorities:
    - Keep the water out
    - Keep the crew on the boat
    - Keep the keel side down
    - Keep the mast up
    - Keep the rudder on

    It would appear that the first and third were what failed on the Concordia, thus causing a failure of the second priority.....
     
  13. mark775

    mark775 Guest

    I don't readily accept answers like "it was a microburst". Why was there so much sail up that the boat could be knocked down? Multiple times? Not knowing this type of ship... does it possibly require that much sail to maintain a safe course? Is it a stability issue? It seems it wasn't THAT bad if the kids were sitting down in biology class, which leads me to believe that there was simply too much sail. Looking forward to see if there is a right-up in Proceedings (U.S. Coast Guard Journal of Safety and Security at Sea). The portlights suredly had deadlights. Somebody, in this regard, did not do their job and have them dogged. At 2:30 PM, the Master was on watch.
     
  14. Hunter25
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    Hunter25 Senior Member

    It is a simple proposition, put a bunch of lubbers on a boat, have it laid on its beam ends and expect them to have a level enough head to dog hatches and ports? Oh please. Mark have you ever experienced a knock down? You do not have to have much sail up to be laid flat. One of the biggest problems with micro bursts are you you do not get a warning, just hugely increased wind strengths for a minute. There is not anything you can do to prepare for this, it is just luck. Some have it, others not so much. The Pride of Baltimore was sunk in just the same way, so I suppose they where being idiots during the last portion of their umpteenth Atlantic crossing too? Some times you get caught and if you have a boat load of lubbers, your odds are not going to be good.
     

  15. mark775

    mark775 Guest

    It is not the students' fault - It is the officers' on watch, ultimately the master's.
    What does my having experienced a knockdown have to do with anything? Personally, I don't go to sea dependent upon a rag hanging on a stick for motivation but to each their own. If knockdowns are acceptable on such a craft, then all the more need for dogged hatches and deadlights.
    Nothing is luck. Everything is someone's fault. Why were they there with insufficient crew? If you say it was a boatload of lubbers, it needed MORE crew than otherwise - that would be the master's fault, as well (if true). This BS about using weather phenomena as an excuse for every touch of incompetence is disturbing. "Oh well, bad luck today - a knockdown and sinking. Yes, a damned microburst again."
     
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