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  • OTVI.USA
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American Shipper

“Rocknes” grounded on prior voyage

“Rocknes” grounded on prior voyage

“Rocknes” grounded on prior voyage

   The Norwegian bulkship “Rocknes” that capsized Jan 19 near Bergen Norway, killing 18 of its crew had touched bottom on its previous voyage, according to testimony on the second day of a maritime inquiry held in Bergen.

   The damage from the vessel’s grounding Dec. 19, in waters off northern Norway was determined to be minor by the ship’s classification society, Germanische Lloyds.

   Vermund Halhjem, 41, the pilot on the Rocknes when it capsized, refused on Tuesday to indicate the ship’s exact position or to say how far it was from land when it began to tilt.

   Halhjem had previously testified at the inquiry that the “Rocknes'” captain, Jan Aksel Juvik, had told him the ship was sailing with a divided cargo of stones in one of the holds.

   After the stones apparently shifted to starboard, Halhjem quoted Juvik as saying, “This isn’t unusual.”

   A German captain sailing on board as part of a training program disagreed as to what effect the cargo shift might have. Halhjem said the two captains discussed the situation, and that the German master “appeared nervous” about the vessel’s stability.

   “It is completely ordinary for a ship to tilt after a turn,” pilot Halhjem told the inquiry. “What was noteworthy was that it didn’t right itself properly when we set a new course.”

   At the point “we had the Revskolten light ahead, we felt two small shudders in the ship,” Halhjem testified. “The captain said, ‘I think we hit something below.’

   “Afterwards came two stronger shakes,” the pilot said.

   “I ordered ‘hard to the right,’ which is 35 degrees on this ship, but the ship just kept tilting over. I heard the captain order that all watertight doors be closed,” the pilot said.

   “I thought that if I was going to survive, I had to get out of the bridge,” Halhjem said. “The tilt was so great I had problems walking in the wheelhouse. Someone outside opened the door into the bridge from the outside. He saved my life.”

   The pilot testified he escaped through the door to the bridge wing on the port (left) side of the “Rocknes.” He gripped a railing as the ship turned over, and then clambered onto the vessel’s up-ended keel. A helicopter rescued him about 20 minutes later. Both captains are missing and presumed dead.