MV Falmouth Bay GCFA, in better times.

M.V. Falmouth Bay, on passage from Busan to Los Angeles via Tsugaru Strait.

Weather routed by a company named "Ocean Routes" (we refered to them as "Ocean Fruits", that is how much faith we had in them), we had to follow their advice even though onboard information indicated severe problems but what did we know, someone had probably paid thousands of dollars for this service so it had to be right, right?


Weather routing was the 'In Thing' like climate change today and although they were thousands of miles away, their computer generated models were infallible.
Things don't change much, do they?

Hurricane force winds were reported East of Japan, weather fax surface pressure charts showed this to be true but the vessel being weather routed, there was no choice but to follow the directions of the weather routing company. The results of this guidance can be read in thie extract from the Official Log Book.

There is no way that I can diminish the role played by the navigating and engineering deparments, most certainly the initial actions of the electrical department were pivotal, communication was lost and my roll was minimal until communication was resumed.

Salt spray on the aerial insulators prevented loading of the antennae from the emergency transmitter using 500kHz. and although the lights from a vessel where visible at that time, no reply was received even using channel 16 vhf.

Eventually, when mains power was restored, Choshi Radio,(JCS) Japan, was contacted on 8364kHz by repeatedly sending "JCS SOS" and listening for the corresponding reply "DE", a little unorthodox but desperate times, desperate measures. Communication continued with Choshi Radio throughout on 8MHz.

We eventually contacted a Japanese container ship "Shimbei Shu Maru" which stood by us for some time and relayed messages to UK via Sat.

Co-incidentally, three nights earlier I'd had a dream not dissimilar to evolving events which I related to the ship's Master. During the height of the incident a comment was heard "Sparks, you and your f***ing dreams".

Thats how it was, a dificult situation was coped with. No counselors, no compensation, no regrets. A lot remains untold, as it should be.

Worse things happen at sea.

It is rumoured that this was the last occasion that a distress message was sent from a British merchant ship.

OFFICIAL LOG of the O.C.L. M.V. FALMOUTH BAY
Note:- The entries regarding watertight doors etc., as required under Part IV of the schedule to the Official Log Book Regulations, are to be made in a special supplementary log book.

Date and hour of the occurrence
Place of the occurrence or situation by latitude and longitude at sea
Date of entry

Entries required by regulation under section 68, Merchant ShippingAct 1979.

State fine imposed, if any

21.3.84 0350

21.3.84 0710

21.3.84 1800

22.3.84 0110

Lat 3918'N Long 15309’E

Lat 3911'N Long 15358’E

Lat 3839'N Long 15601’E

24.3.84

23.3.84

24.3.84

This day, at time indicated, vessel encountered heavy weather. Engine revs reduced to save load on main engine. Wind force increasing from force 9 to force 11 and barometer falling rapidly, vessel pitching heavily at times and shipping spray overall. See bridge log book.

Reduced M. engine revs to ease motion.Pitching heavily at times, heavy spray o’all.

Reduced revs to maintain steerage and then swung vessel head to wind. Hove to in force 12+ winds(85 to 90 knots). Vessel held head to wind throughout

Vessel in steep mountainous seas heavy swell wind force 12 and hove to. Complete power failure occurred due ingress of water down side passageway after container movement at No. 1 hatch had ruptured deck plating. Water leaked into main engine room via port passageway door and rendered main transformer out of action. Distress message sent on 500 immediately but no response received at 0115. Main engine power restored in emergency use only, no gyro facilities available, vessel steered head to wind. Distress message finally accepted by Choshi Radio, Japan at 0140. At this time, inspection via side passageway was carried out. It was established that port passageway was full of water caused by said passageway vents forward main deck being completely sheared off by containers shifting at No. 1 hatch, also rupture in main deck itself, also caused by shifting containers. Vessel still hove to, steering with difficulty head to wind into mountainous seas and pitching heavily.
Note:- Entries about disciplinary offences. The master’s attention is called to the requirements of part II of the schedule to the Official Log Book Regulations, made under section 68 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1970.

OFFICIAL LOG of the O.C.L. M.V. FALMOUTH BAY
Note:- The entries regarding watertight doors etc., as required under Part IV of the schedule to the Official Log Book Regulations, are to be made in a special supplementary log book.

Date and hour of the occurrence
Place of the occurrence or situation by latitude and longitude at sea
Date of entry

Entries required by regulation under section 68, Merchant ShippingAct 1979.

State fine imposed, if any

22.3.84 1332

Lat 3808'N Long 15520’E

24.3.84

At 0340 containers immediately forward of the bridge (32 02 86/88) sheared lashings and fell to starboard causing severe damage to other containers and sending at least one container over the side. Vessel still without 220 volt electrical power due to lack of transformer. Containers were frequently seen being thrown overboard as vessel pitched and rolled very heavily. At 0515 220V supply temporarily restored. Wind still force 11/12 steep mountainous seas and heavy swell. Refer bridge log book for details, vessel remained hove to. At 1121 visual contact made with Japanese S.A.R aircraft, radio contact made with same COV67 at 1145. Radio contact made with Japanese container ship Shimbei Shu Maru. Throughout the following 24 hours containers were shearing lashings and falling overboard (see bridge movement book for details). V/l was listing due to side passageway water which was increasing. Various attempts were made to reach and plug the deck ruptures but this proved impossible due to container congestion on deck, weather conditions at the time and w/t integrity at the foc’sle spaces.

Japanese container ship Shimbei Shu Maru on station. Vessel continued to roll violently despite being hove to. Containers continued to be discharged overside

Note:- Entries about disciplinary offences. The master’s attention is called to the requirements of part II of the schedule to the Official Log Book Regulations, made under section 68 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1970.

OFFICIAL LOG of the O.C.L. M.V. FALMOUTH BAY
Note:- The entries regarding watertight doors etc., as required under Part IV of the schedule to the Official Log Book Regulations, are to be made in a special supplementary log book.

Date and hour of the occurrence
Place of the occurrence or situation by latitude and longitude at sea
Date of entry

Entries required by regulation under section 68, Merchant ShippingAct 1979.

State fine imposed, if any

23.3.84 1000

23.3.84 1648

23.3.84 2244

26.3.84 0900

Lat 3821'N Long 15544’E

Lat 3852'N Long 15324’E

Lat 3723'N Long 15239’E

Tokyo

23.3.84

23.3.84

23.3.84

26.3.84

It was decided to attempt to remove manhole covers to No. 4 wing ballast tanks to allow side passageway water to be pumped overboard, V/l listed both ways and covers removed by 1045/23rd. V/l continued rolling and pitching heavily in force 9 winds heavy confused swell. At 1620 knowing side passageways were lowering and GM/list becoming less it was decided to turn the vessel stern to wind and attempt to proceed to Japan.

Vessel on heading of 200T&G to minimize rolling and proceeding in company Japanese S.A.R vessel Tsugaru

Vessel o/c to 255 T&G bound for Yokohama. Side passageway reported dry. I hereby certify that all possible precautions had been taken to avoid the aforementioned weather conditions and that throughout the storm all possible measures were taken to avoid damage to both ship and cargo.

(Signature of Master) (Signature of Mate)

On arrival Tokyo No. 1 OHI International Container Terminals berth as port of refuge. General Averages was declared by me at 0900hrs 26th March 1984.

(Signature of Master)

Note:- Entries about disciplinary offences. The master’s attention is called to the requirements of part II of the schedule to the Official Log Book Regulations, made under section 68 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1970.

Containers 3

Mangled containers on the foredeck.

Containers 2

Approximately one hundred and twenty containers went over the side and about eighty smashed on deck.

Yokohama

Safely home in port, Yokohama, Japan.


MV Falmouth Bay last weather report before the incident, the weather just got worse.
Could have been the last message I sent.

WX OBS GCFA

GCFA 21063 99390 11558 41294 82470 10065 20061
49675 57044 70761 887// 22222 00060 20822

GCFA Ships call sign
21063 Day, Time of obs, Wind speed indicator. 21st 0600, estimated.
99390 Sea station, Lat degrees and 10ths. 39.0 North
11558 Quadrant, Longitude Degrees and 10ths. 155.8 East
41294 Cloud base 100 - 200m, vis 1km.
82470 total cloud, dir surface wind and speed. 8/8, 240, 70kts.
10065 Air temp +6.5.
20061 Dew point temp +6.1.
49675 Air pressure 967.5mB.
57044 Pressure change over 3 hours. 4.4mB.
70761 present weather rain, previous overcast.
887// Clouds. 8/8 low cloud.
22222 Ships course, average speed. East 6 to 10kts.
00060 Sea temperature. +6.0 degrees.
20822 Wind waves period, height. 8 seconds, 11m.