Am. Samoa Purse Seiner Collision Being Investigated

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Tri Marine vessel quickly repaired by shipyard

By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, Oct. 30, 2014) – Tri Marine International is conducting its own investigation into the cause of an incident earlier this month where its purse seiner, the ‘Captain Vincent Gann’ collided with another purse seiner inside the Pago Pago Harbor, causing an oil spill.

As previously reported by Samoa News, the Vincent Gann collided on Oct. 16 with the vessel Ocean Challenger, causing damage to the Vincent Gann. The incident also sent a crew member of the Ocean Challenger to the hospital.

American Samoa Shipyard Service Authority board chairman and acting general manager, David Robinson, along with two other local government officials, confirmed that the Vincent Gann belonged to Tri Marine and that the vessel went through repairs at the shipyard.

Responding to Samoa News questions, Tri Marine spokesperson Heidi Happonen explained that damage was "minimal to the bulk of the vessel and was repaired in dry dock by local welders."

She says repairs were completed last weekend and Tri Marine was "grateful for the wonderful efforts of the shipyard to get them done so quickly."

"We are still investigating the details of what caused the incident, however it appears that a minor electronic failure led to a variance in speed when the vessel was approaching the dock, resulting in contact with the skiff of another vessel tied up [at the dock]," she said.

When the incident happened and Tri Marine needed to repair the vessel, the shipyard already had on the slipway the Tongan government’s naval patrol boat for repairs, while other, smaller longliners were awaiting their turn on the slipway.

Responding to Samoa News inquiries, Robinson said the shipyard was asked to carry out "emergency repairs" to the vessel as there were two very large holes in the hull—one in the bow, and a large gash in the hull along the port side.

He explained that all fluids had to be pumped out to avoid spillage and the vessel was trimmed to avoid further ingress of water whilst it was moved from one side of the harbor to the shipyard.

Once the vessel had been dry docked the work of cutting out the damaged plate and carrying out internal repairs commenced under the watchful eye of the shipyard management, the Trimarine Operations Manager and the Chief Surveyor of Offshore Marine Surveyors from Hawaii, Robinson said.

A time frame was set for four days to complete the work as rescheduling of repair work that was underway on the Kingdom of Tonga’s naval patrol boat when the accident occurred had to be halted to make way for the Tri Marine vessel, and work on smaller longliner fishing boats had to be put back, he said.

"Shipyard staff worked in shifts for 24 hours each day in order the meet the deadline. The workforce performed beyond all expectations, in terms of their dedication and high level of skill that they showed given the complexity of the repairs," Robinson said of the staff, adding that the Tri Marine vessel was back in the water in less than a week after dry docking.

Robinson paid a special compliment to shipyard operations manager Wayne Smith and the welders on the staff and all the other members of the team involved in the repairs.

At the start of the job, he said, many people were skeptical that it could be completed in the allotted time and some doubted that the skill level in the shipyard was sufficiently high to complete the task effectively.

"The workforce has really shone through and proved without question that no job is too complicated or technically difficult for them to handle," he said and thanked the captain of the Tongan naval patrol boat and his Australian navy advisors for their kind consideration in allowing their vessel to be put down to make way for the Capt VG, and for it to be dry docked again to complete the work that was originally scheduled.

He also thanked surveyor Ward Graessle from Honolulu who made arrangements for the work to be carried out in the shipyard, and to all the contractors and suppliers who helped with labor and materials to complete the work on schedule.

"This is another fine example of Samoan ingenuity and skill sets all available in the Territory," Robinson said.

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