View Full Version : Italy deaths as Genoa ship hits control tower

8th May 2013, 01:00
Not Aviation but still of interest?

BBC News - Italy deaths as Genoa ship hits control tower (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-22444421)

PZU - Out of Africa (Retired)

8th May 2013, 06:12
Genoa port tower.


The ship was manoeuvring out of the port with the help of tugboats in calm conditions, reports said.It doesn't say if the port pilot was onboard. The port website says pilotage can be done by VHF radio.

Lon More
8th May 2013, 07:19
Been a few years since I was there so don't know where that tower is. The runway sticks out into he harbour. Maybe he can claim to have taken avoiding action on a aircraft?

green granite
8th May 2013, 07:49
When you look at the pictures in the Torygraph they don't add up:

Three dead in Genoa shipping accident - Telegraph (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/italy/10043002/Three-dead-in-Genoa-shipping-accident.html)

Rwy in Sight
8th May 2013, 07:57

I thought the captain is always responsible for the safety, security and navigation of the vessel. So if a port pilot were onboard was irrelevant.

Rwy in Sight

im from uranus
8th May 2013, 08:01
green granite..

It looks to me as if though the whole building has collapsed and not just the tower. If you look closely at sitigeltfel's pic you can see a staircase towards the rear of the building? Is this the same one?

green granite
8th May 2013, 08:26
http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/02556/genoa-ship-1_2556811c.jpg http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/02556/genoa-ship-3_2556813b.jpg

Well first of all the tower in the photo is situated on a corner, where the bow of the ship comes through isn't, and where did those dockside cranes come from?

Incidentally Lon it's not the Airport control tower that's been hit.

8th May 2013, 08:34
If you look carefully at the debris you can see a window frame that matches those of the building and the white rectangular cladding is there amongst it as well.

Loose rivets
8th May 2013, 08:37
Just an incredibly lightweight structure that's left the stairs behind. Bewildering.

green granite
8th May 2013, 09:19
Hmmmm some pictures from google earth. The tower is on the 'nipple' that sticks out near the centre of the first picture.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i11/orangeherald/genoa_zps829520c0.png (http://s68.photobucket.com/user/orangeherald/media/genoa_zps829520c0.png.html)

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i11/orangeherald/genoa2_zps775b2ee7.png (http://s68.photobucket.com/user/orangeherald/media/genoa2_zps775b2ee7.png.html)

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i11/orangeherald/genoa1_zps3290f5ea.png (http://s68.photobucket.com/user/orangeherald/media/genoa1_zps3290f5ea.png.html)

Camera angles and long telephoto lenses are confusing things me thinks.

Lon More
8th May 2013, 09:56
Incidentally Lon it's not the Airport control tower that's been hit

I knew that. It must be a fair distance away from the airport. IIRC mainly fishing boats there, so the older part

tony draper
8th May 2013, 10:02
Dunno how they see any thing from the bridge on those bloody box boats,probably a crew of six and a puter,no lookout on the bow and the flair of same has side swiped the tower.:uhoh:

8th May 2013, 12:31
Green Granite, the "nipple" you mention in the Google Earth image (dated 9/7/2007) appears to be a temporary platform prior to construction of the tower, and which would become the equivalent of a bridge fender, intended precisely to protect the tower from being hit by the flare of a ship's bow. Note what appears to be a wall around the platform, to be removed after completion of the tower and allowing the platform or fender to be covered with a thin film of water for aesthetic reasons. Tragic miscalculation of how far the bow flare of some ships can reach; the outreach is increased when the ship heels from a sudden stop.

Edit: It's not just bow flare. Jolly Nero's starboard quarter with its angled stern ramp would probably have a greater outreach.

uffington sb
8th May 2013, 12:44
Green Granite, broadreach.

I would suggest that is the tower judging by the length of the shadow and photos show that the seaward side is curved and landward square.

Looks like the last pic from the tower at 22:39


8th May 2013, 12:46
The "nipple" is actually the roof of the tower cab. Look at the third pic in Green Granite's post 7 and you'll see what I mean.

8th May 2013, 12:48
You're looking down on the top of the tower.

8th May 2013, 13:07
Uffington, Treadigraph and Bushfiva, of course, you're absolutely right, it is the roof of the tower. Thank you. My hip-shooting bad!

Nevertheless, I cannot imagine that the tower would have been built without fendering below the waterline, or shoaling, to protect it.

uffington sb
8th May 2013, 13:09
Green Granite.

The dockside crane is on the dock behind the tower. Look at goggle earth and the last pic from the tower webcam.

8th May 2013, 13:16
I cannot imagine that the tower would have been built without fendering below the waterline, or shoaling, to protect it.

This is Italy - what could possibly go wrong?

8th May 2013, 13:45
Given the treatment of the earthquake scientists, I wouldn't be surprised if the engineer who designed it is now prosecuted, despite having told them that the fender the politicos insisted on wouldn't be adequate.

8th May 2013, 13:53
Looks like the whole L shaped building around the tower came down, too. Not surprising, as I'd guess that if the ship managed to knock out some of the supporting piles the whole thing would come tumbling down.

Must have been a pretty massive impact, rather than just a glancing blow, I think. There's some mention of the ship having lost two engines and being effectively out of control, but goodness only knows if there's any truth in that statement.

green granite
8th May 2013, 13:54
I've realised why my confusion abounds, I presumed the ship in the picture was the one that did the damage and was still in that position, it isn't. :ugh::ugh:

uffington sb
8th May 2013, 14:14
On Marine Traffic, the Jolly Nero is tied up at the container dock.

Amazing that there wasn't any sort of protection around the tower.

8th May 2013, 14:16
VP959, one report said it was being manouevered by 6 tugs, so not sailing under its own power (alone).

8th May 2013, 14:29
Did they have one of those firehouse poles to slide down and evacuate when they saw the ship coming?.

What do airport control tower use when they see a plane coming directly at them?


tony draper
8th May 2013, 14:56
Once saw part of a ferry landing built in the old days from 14"x 14" baulks of timbers crumple up like tinfoil when a big tanker just nudged it,lots of energy in mass of iron that big moving, even very slowly.
Did do the ship much good either.

8th May 2013, 15:05
One wonders if it was a gentle nudge. It just seems unlikely that if the ship had been moving at any sort of speed toward the building that people wouldn't have got out before it hit...

8th May 2013, 15:09
This is Italy - what could possibly go wrong?

Lucky you folks in the UK, where nothing ever goes wrong... :}

8th May 2013, 15:14
VP959, one report said it was being manouevered by 6 tugs, so not sailing under its own power (alone).

I understand that, but can the two (not six, apparently) tugs alone handle the boat if it loses power? This is the comment about loss of power from the BBC News article:

The cause of the crash was not immediately clear, but Genoa's Il Secolo XIX newspaper quoted the Jolly Nero's captain as saying that two engines appeared to have failed and "we lost control of the ship"

Not clear from that whether the ships engines failed or whether a tug had a problem. There's another comment in the BBC article that:

The head of the Genoa Port Authority, Luigi Merlo, told the newspaper: "It's very difficult to explain how this could have happened because the ship should not have been where it was."

Two tug boats were moving the vessel, there was a port pilot on board, and sea conditions were "perfect", he added.

One wonders if the two tugs mentioned had a problem. Seems pretty unlikely, but stranger things have been known to happen.

8th May 2013, 15:20
One wonders if the two tugs mentioned had a problem.
Contaminated fuel?

tony draper
8th May 2013, 15:29
Some of those new fangled ships have maneuvering engines port and starboard,sort of ducted fans,seems a rather congested space to be using six tugs.

8th May 2013, 15:34
seems a rather congested space to be using six tugs.

union rules?

8th May 2013, 15:48
Reports talking about damage to the rear of the Jolly Nero...

RE the control tower, Bing maps generally has more up to date images than google maps.
See Bing Maps - Driving Directions, Traffic and Road Conditions (http://binged.it/12VdFXy)

8th May 2013, 15:56
It does indeed seem pretty congested. The pic below(from GE) shows the tower circled in red, adjacent to what looks like a fairly narrow entrance channel to the harbour. I can imagine that if the ship or tugs lost power whilst passing that area it wouldn't take much for a big, high sided ship to drift into the tower if there was any sort of wind at all blowing.


8th May 2013, 16:24
Speculation, based on BBC website image of route.
Ship is facing west, so goes astern to appear on VP's image (above) centre-left, It reaches the pool below the tower (centre of image) then swings NNE (still going astern) to create space to turn, aiming to exit forward to the bottom right of the image. The captain/pilot aim at the tower as the rearward vision from that ship is awful. Gearbox/engines fail when moved from astern to forward. Ship continues rearward motion & strikes tower.

n.b - biggest 'ship' I've handled is a 55' yacht. So, take with a bucket of salt.

green granite
8th May 2013, 17:01
The question to ask is why build it right on the edge of the quay? 20 or 30 meters further back it would probably have been be safe. Hindsight is of course a wonderful thing.

Loose rivets
8th May 2013, 17:15
The question is, why build towers at all?

In these days of high definition, radar and infrared fog penetration, there could be a plethora of cameras - with just a few on high masts. No need for a big room on a vast structure. I suppose people just like it up there.

8th May 2013, 19:50

I call it perspective.

Being able to see 360 degrees gives you much better feeling
for what is going on than Multiple TV screens.

Along the same lines, you could ask why do they need control towers
at airports as well ?

west lakes
8th May 2013, 20:03
looking at the photos of the ship I would guess the height of the stern structure to be about 90ft above sea level, so it could have pushed the 160ft tower over

8th May 2013, 20:44
Did Capt. Schettino get a new job?

8th May 2013, 21:00
I would guess the height of the stern structure to be about 90ft above sea level, so it could have pushed the 160ft tower over

Risk analysis? :confused:

Low risk but high impact. :ugh:

tony draper
8th May 2013, 21:18
If the Victorian had built that tower it would be the stern superstructure of that ship lying in the water now.

8th May 2013, 21:51
As other posters have mentioned, it appears the ship did hit stern-first, apparently as she swung to be conducted by tugs stern-first to her present berth.

Damage to the ship's port quarter appears minimal: just a slight crease, as can be seen in the sequence of photos on the Gcaptain site: Jolly Nero Incident Photos in Port of Genoa, Italy [10 PHOTOS] | gCaptain - Maritime & Offshore News (http://gcaptain.com/jolly-nero-incident-photos-port/)

The Jolly Nero also appears to have entered the turning basin in front of the pilot station from the west i.e. not via the main entrance to the port. That may be because she was just shifting berth.

What seems incredible to me is that the design of the unseen - slightly below the waterline but surely there - fendering, artificial shoal, what have you, could have neglected to take into account the actual overhang of one of the port's own home vessels.

Also incredible is how such a light touch - if in fact the crease in the Jolly Nero's aft superstructure was caused by this particular contact and not some earlier accident - could bring not just the control tower but the entire pre-fabricated L-shaped building down, litereally like a house of cards. If there's anything to be grateful for it's that the accident happened deep into the night rather than in daytime, when the building would have been full and casualties much more numerous.

Edit: before someone calls me out on the Jolly Nero's home port, it is Naples, not Genoa. Nevertheless the ship is a regular caller at Genoa.

uffington sb
9th May 2013, 04:05
What makes you think there was any shoaling there.
On all the photos there isn't any change of colour of the water, and in the aftermath of the accident, there are tugs and other boats all around it.

9th May 2013, 08:13
I think the lack of shoal water or some form of impact protection buffer around the tower is the point being made.

Being built up on raised piles, that structure would seem to have had very little ability to withstand any side impact. As it seems to be in a position were vessels are regularly manoeuvring (my understanding is that the basin adjacent to the tower is used to turn vessels around) one has to question why the possibility of it getting nudged by a big ship wasn't taken into account.

I know it's easy to be wise with hindsight, but the damage to the ship where it hit the tower (or perhaps the adjacent building) seems minimal, indicating that the force needed to knock everything over may have been quite modest.

9th May 2013, 09:17
It would never happen in this country.

Oh, wait; breaking news:

BBC News - Cargo ship UFA damaged after crashing into Ayr west pier (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-22462385)

Rwy in Sight
9th May 2013, 09:32
This thinks comes in 3s.

Rwy in Sight

9th May 2013, 09:38
Nothing much about this incident makes sense. Checking the AIS feed for the previous few days shows Jolly Nero at the berths to the far west of the port so she would have been departing, not arriving. Unless she was towed stern-first all the way down the channel and then swung by the tower there is very little reason for here to be there at all.

Anyway, the most obvious reason for collision I can think of is engines put astern during the swing and then some sort of failure that prevented them being put ahead again.

I should add I'm the product manager for a ship maneuvering simulator so have a professional interest! :ok:

9th May 2013, 10:01
The AIS track :


does seem to show that she was moved (perhaps stern-first?) from a berth at the West side across towards the turning pool adjacent to the tower. The AIS track follows the transponder location, which will be close to the bridge, where the aerials are mounted. The damage photo :


seems to confirm that it was the stern that hit the tower or building. If being towed astern that would seem to tie in. As an earlier post suggested, perhaps she was being pulled out of a berth stern-first, with the intention of turning next to the tower, ready to exit the port, when the reported engine failure (either on the ship or the tugs) happened.

9th May 2013, 10:01
I was wondering whether the age of the Jolly Nero might have any bearing on this accident,she was built in 1976.I was 27 years at sea and sailed in a few old bangers.I was a berthing master for my last few years at work and the destructive power of a slow moving ship is awesome.The flare of a ships bow just touching a container crane is enough to knock it off its wheels and shock load the whole crane.

9th May 2013, 10:04
Not an expert, but could it be a thruster failure?

A A Gruntpuddock
9th May 2013, 10:31
Seems incredible that a harbour building would be designed right up to the waters edge. Did the architects really take no account of hull overhang?

9th May 2013, 11:11
Uffington, I hear what your're saying but it just seems inconceivable that a waterside structure would be put up without such protection. And by a port authority at that. Ships lose engine power every day of the week, all over the world, knocking over cranes, colliding with other vessels, you name it. It's second nature for harbour pilots to be ready for the "what ifs", just as it becomes second nature when you're learning to fly, to always keep an eye out for open ground should your engine stop.

If in fact there was no protection, Genoa Port Authority (edit: or whoever authorised construction without protection) deserve to be taken to the cleaners.

As for why the Jolly Nero came in from the west and turned in the basin to approach the berth stern first, the simplest explanation would be that she worked container cargo at another berth and would have shifted to work roro at the second; for the roro she'd need to berth starboard-to because of the angled stern ramp.

YouTube clip from inside the tower: Traffic in the port - YouTube (http://youtu.be/B-uraPJrIAY)

9th May 2013, 11:45
Just had a quick look at port control towers elsewhere in the world. Scanned about 20 and they all seem to be inset from the wharf edge to avoid hull overhang problems. Looks like Genoa has some explaining to do.

9th May 2013, 11:59
Following broadreachs YouTube link leads to other clips that show this port. This one shows a big ship turning in the channel right next to the tower: YM Ultimate arrival at Genoa - YouTube

At around the 2:30 mark there's a shot of the chart plotter showing the AIS track and the ship's position in the channel. Looks close to the sort of manoeuvre that's been described here already.

uffington sb
9th May 2013, 12:57
If you look on the I-map or GE image you can where she came from on the AIS Marine Traffic plot and she, or a sister ship is tied up at the Ignazio Messina & C dock with the stern ramp down.
I presume that going ahead then turning to port out of the harbour isn't an option.