Undetected corrosion and wear led to an equipment failure on a cargo ship while offloading cargo last year in Houston, the National Transportation Safety Board said earlier this week

On July 23, 2022, the cargo ship Thorco Basilisk was offloading a wind turbine component at the Greensport Terminal on the Houston Ship Channel when the hoisting wire rope on one of the ship’s cargo cranes failed, causing the component to drop onto the vessel’s cargo hold tween deck. 

No injuries were reported. Damages to the ship and cargo were estimated between $3 million and $5 million.

An examination of the hoisting wire rope showed significant external corrosion and wear; however, the visible signs of external corrosion could not be fully seen until the grease on the rope was removed. While annual surveys were performed on the wire ropes, the surveys primarily involved visual inspections to look for wear and would not have identified the underlying corrosion below the grease. 

While the hoisting wire rope had been in use for nine years, still within the standard 10-year period of use, a post-casualty examination found “the wire rope was near the end of its service life and probably should have been discarded,” according to the report. The operating company has since updated its planned maintenance system to require crane wire rope replacement every five years.