Marine Accident Report

Allision of Bahamas-Registered Tankship
M/T Axel Spirit with Ambrose Light
Entrance to New York Harbor
November 3, 2007

NTSB Number: MAR-09/02
NTIS Number: PB2009-916402
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Executive Summary:

On November 3, 2007, about 0143 eastern daylight time, the 819-foot-long Bahamas-registered tankship M/T Axel Spirit allided with Ambrose Light, an offshore aid to navigation located near the entrance to New York Harbor. The Axel Spirit was near the end of its voyage from Cayo Arcas, Mexico, to Perth Amboy, New Jersey, and was carrying 441,000 barrels of crude oil. The Axel Spirit sustained a 60-foot-long indent in the hull on its starboard side above the waterline and damage at the turn of the bilge. The vessel’s hull was not punctured, no flooding occurred, and no cargo or fuel was lost. All three legs and the central column of Ambrose Light were damaged, causing the structure to lean. The tower’s light beacon also stopped rotating at some point after the allision. Shortly after the accident, a Sandy Hook pilot boarded the Axel Spirit for the vessel’s remaining transit to Perth Amboy. The pilot did not know that the Axel Spirit had struck Ambrose Light because he had not seen the damage to the vessel’s hull, nor had the Axel Spirit bridge team informed him of the allision. The pilot also had not noticed anything irregular about the operation of Ambrose Light.

Damage to the Axel Spirit was estimated at $1.5 million. Ambrose Light was damaged beyond repair and was removed during the fall of 2008.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the allision of the Axel Spirit with Ambrose Light was the master’s failure to use all available resources to determine the vessel’s position and course in the transit past Ambrose Light and to adequately communicate his intentions and expectations to the bridge team, which therefore prevented the bridge team from appropriately supporting the master.