Coast Guard warns on bollard failures

Recent failures of shore side bollards that cast moored vessels adrift has the Coast Guard urging terminal operators to inspect for deteriorated material conditions in bollards, their foundations and fasteners.

Vessels and shore side facilities have been damaged in the incidents, but no deaths or injuries reported. Neither the Coast Guard nor the Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration (OSHA) have regulatory authority over those dockside anchors for mooring lines – so it’s up to mariners and terminal operators to check for the danger.

“In several cases the underlying deficient material condition of the bollards was unknown until the failures occurred,” according to a May 30 safety alert published by the Coast Guard.

A corroded base and fasteners on a failed steel bollard. Coast Guard photo.

A corroded base and fasteners on a failed steel bollard. Coast Guard photo.

“Causes include the rotting of organic bollards made of marine pilings, the undetected fracture of bollard castings due to manufacturer defects, damage from previous overloads, or the degradation of bollard foundations and fasteners.  Typically, the failures are associated with abnormal dynamic loads transferred to the bollard from a vessel.”

Those loads can be brought by winds acting against the broadside sail areas of large ships – which are substantial for the new generation of cruise ships and very large containerships when the weather turns gusty.

In a windy mid-May incident at Port Newark, N.J., the 984’x149’, 8,004- TEU Hapag-Lloyd containership Tucapel broke mooring lines as it moved toward a berth. The ship had to drop anchor and be stabilized with assistance from four tugboats.

In August 2014, two vessels broke free at the Port of Fremantle in Australia when a passing thunderstorm pushed on the ships, and a bollard holding both their stern lines broke. The vessels were recovered by tugs with minor damage, but one bumped into a rail bridge that had to be closed for three weeks.

Coast Guard officials recommend that facility owners and operators “take steps to develop a routine inspection program for bollards and other mooring equipment.  Furthermore, vessel personnel should report discoveries of apparently deficient shore side mooring equipment to facility manage

About the author

Kirk Moore

Associate Editor Kirk Moore was a reporter for the Asbury Park Press for over 30 years before joining WorkBoat in 2015. He wrote several award-winning stories on marine, environmental, coastal and military issues that helped drive federal and state government policy changes. He has also been a field editor for WorkBoat’s sister publication, National Fisherman, for almost 25 years. Moore was awarded the Online News Association 2011 Knight Award for Public Service for the “Barnegat Bay Under Stress,” 2010 series that led to the New Jersey state government’s restoration plan. He lives in West Creek, N.J.

3 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Bobby Kelley Jr. on

    None of that will ever happen. Because if they do find something those owners operators will use the wait and see program like they all do before they fix it.

  2. Avatar

    This unfortunately is a global issue. The rate of mooring incidents is ever increasing, alarmingly so, with bollard failure being the primary cause. Considerable aggregated data shows that bollard failures have many contributing factors, such as; Cruise Liners have, since 1992, practically quadrupled in size whereas supporting infrastructure has, in general, not kept pace. Currently, there is no legislation in place to enforce mandatory inspection and testing of such critical port assets. However; vessel operators, ensuring safe havens, are now beginning to ask the question of ports “Are your bollards safe to use, and where is your proof?…”

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