The Cause of the Grounding of M/V BRAER, How Crew Morale, Equipment Failure and Weather Conspired to Wreck a Tanker

Essay by TruckmenUniversity, Bachelor's April 2004

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The chain of events of January 5, 1993 that had started innocently enough involved a number of reasons including human error by not adequately preparing a vessel for sea, the extreme weather conditions that the vessel proceed into, and later, the lack of lead time for a rescue tug to prepare for a ship in distress. With all that had gone wrong that day, the very forces of nature that had assisted in the creation of this disaster actually worked to spare the region of the worst of the ensuing spill.

The MV BRAER began her voyage with a load of 85,000 tons of light crude from Mongstad, Norway, to a refinery in Quebec, Canada; this was her 99th voyage from this port and celebrations were planned for her 100th arrival upon her return. Weather was already bad with the storm at Gale Force Nine (41-47 knots). Twenty-six to thirty foot seas were hitting BRAER on her port side and green water was coming on deck and breaking; BRAER was rolling approximately 10 degrees from side to side.

Progress was at a snail's pace at 2.5 knots and 24 hours after leaving her loading port she had only gone 60 miles.

Previous to this voyage, there were some issues that although are not directly related to the wrecking of BRAER, most certainly could have contributed to her demise and warrant mentioning. BRAER herself was a very well built vessel. She was one of the last of her type of building ships "the old way". Without the use of computer-aided design where tolerances in ship-building and the use of high-tensile steels allowed building of ships just enough to withstand the stresses of heavy seas, the likelihood of catastrophic failure was more possible than that of conventionally-built ships of the same type.