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"Curse of The Pequot"

Or Daylight Blindness?

On The Scene In Lake Maracaibo

Feature Date: January, 2006

Event Date: November 6 2005

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"Overlooking Runway 25 - Right, at Los Angeles International Airport"

On The Scene -- In Lake Maracaibo !

 A 2006 Countryman & McDaniel

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"Curse of The Pequot?"

On The Scene

In Lake Maracaibo

M/V Maesrsk Holyhead

In Collision With

M/V Pequot

Daylight Blindness?


A Cargo Nightmare Prize Contender

The Date: November 6 2005

The Time: 1745 hours

The Place: Lake Maracaibo, Venezuela

M/V Maersk Holyhead In Better Days

Built -2000

Builder -Mitsui Shipyard, Japan

Date Entered Fleet - Oct. 2000

Operator - State-run Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA)

Owner - A.P. Moller - Maersk

Home Port -Guanta-Puerto la Cruz

Flag - Venezuela

Type of Vessel -Tanker LPG

Displacement - 17,980 gt - 23,272 dwt

Overall Length - 159 meters

Beam -26.03 meters

Main Power -Mitsui B&W 6S50MC

Service Speed -16 knots

BHP - 9,900

Cargo Volume (m3) - 20,900 cbm

The Prolog To Disaster -- A Cruise On Lake Maracaibo
Venezuela is the world's No. 5 oil exporter. All that oil moves through terminals on Lake Maracaibo -- the largest lake in South America -- and then through a brackish channel to the sea.

On November 6 2005, two vessels are intending to pass one another during daylight hours, in the calm waters of Lake Maracaibo. They are the LNG carrier M/T Maersk Holyhead and bulk carrier M/V Pequot -- large, modern vessels with the latest communications & navigational equipment.

What followed was either "Daylight Blindness" -- or was it a final consequence of Captain Ahab's "Curse of the Pequod"?


We are now looking through the bridge windows of Liberian registered 70,165 dwt panamax bulk carrier M/V Pequot,

88 kilometers off the Maracaibo Lake shipping lane, between between buoy 53 & buoy 55, the main waterway for Venezuelan oil exports.

M/T Maersk Holyhead is suddendly approaching with 11,200 metric tons of propane, she appears turning to port across our course!

Blindness In Broad Daylight ?

Collision Alarm!

Brace! Brace!

At This Point There Is No Skill -- There Is No Method -- There Is No Way To Avoid The Inevitable.

It Is The Law of Nature For Large Vessels.

The Moment of Impact

On Mon. 7 November 2005, The Cargo Letter broadcast the following news story:

23,272 dwt M/T Maersk Holyhead - in collision with -- Liberian 36,615 gt bulk 70,165 dwt M/V Pequot (1996-built), with coal on Venezuela's Lake Maracaibo<< Webfeature, Nov. 6, but authorities expected key oil shipping lanes to be unaffected by accident. Venezuela is world's No. 5 oil exporter. Lake Maracacibo<< Webfeature. Collision caused a hole in the Danish ship's starboard side above & below waterline -- carrying about 12,345 tons of propane (Mon. Nov. 7, 2005)

The investigation will continue, but these photographs appear to show a deviation

-- on the part of the Maersk-owned LPG carrier which took the vessel into the path of M/V Pequot.

Look back to first picture to see the unexpected turn to port

Flames are seen on M/T Maersk Holyhead -- with 11,200 metric tons of flammible propane aboard!!

Collective breath is held by all hands!

M/T MAERSK HOLYHEAD in port list from the impact - small fire, but there is no explosion.

A Venezuelan source working for the emergency services said that the Maersk vessel appeared to have lost direction in a sector of the channel subject to a strong current.

An oil spill caused by a hole in one of M/T Maersk Holyhead's tanks holding 550 cu m of bunkers was under control.

The incident did not cause shipping delays, though the lane was shut for a few hours to remove the ships. The closure did not coincide with scheduled tanker arrivals or departures.

Aftermath -- At Anchor

Maersk Press Release - 07 November 2005

MAERSK HOLYHEAD Involved In Collision

MAERSK HOLYHEAD, a 20,900 cbm semi-ref liquefied petroleum gas carrier (lpg-carrier), on Sunday 6 November 2005 about 1745 local time collided with the Liberian panamax bulk carrier PEQUOT 53-55 miles off the Maracaibo Lake channel.

MAERSK HOLYHEAD is carrying about 11,200 metric tons propane. We are grateful that our Venezuelan officers and crew as well as the vessel are safe. The vessel is now alongside in the discharge port El Tablazo and is awaiting additional oil containment equipment before initiating the discharge operation. The collision has resulted in a hole in the vessel's starboard side above and below the waterline as well as a leakage in a bunker tank containing about 500 cbm of fuel oil. The oil from this tank is presently leaking into the sea. The cause for the accident has not been clarified yet. The A.P. Moller - Maersk Group is committed to the protection of the marine environment - it is in fact an integral part of our business philosophy and policy, and we are actively cooperating with the relevant authorities to carry out an adequate and effective response to the oil pollution and to determine causes and effects of the incident. Technical expert assistance is presently being arranged flown out from Copenhagen. Further relevant factual information will be provided when available.

MAERSK HOLYHEAD was delivered from Mitsui Shipyard, Japan in 2000, registered in Guanta Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela and has Venezuelan officers and crew onboard. The vessel has been employed for more than 4 years by the Venezuelan national oil company, for coastal trade.

A.P. Moller - Maersk - Corporate Communications, Copenhagen

M/T Maersk Holyhead was moved to the discharge port of El Tablazo for inspection

Maersk Press Release - 11 November 2005

MAERSK HOLYHEAD Involved In A Collision - Status 11 November

The gas carrier MAERSK HOLYHEAD berthed at the port of El Tablazo located at the entrance to Lake Maracaibo on Monday morning 7 November. The oil leakage from the damaged starboard fuel oil tank has been stopped and as precaution oil booms have been placed around the damaged area of the vessel. We have started the discharge of the vessel's cargo of gas and expect to finalise this over the weekend.

Our emergency response plan has been activated. Specialists in the area of oil spill containment and overall spill management are actively engaged in handling the situation. With the leakage of oil stopped, focus shifts to clean-up at shore and at sea. We have had our own representatives on the location since 7 November and have notified and are working with the appropriate Venezuelan authorities. As investigations are still ongoing it is at this stage not possible to comment on the cause of the accident. Further relevant factual information will be provided when available.

A.P. Moller - Maersk - Corporate Communications, Copenhagen

The 1996-built, Liberia-flagged bulker M/V Pequot was fully laden with coal and received substantial damage.

Minimal damage to M/V Maersk Holyhead, causing a small fire & loss of part of her bunkers from a hole in the vessel's starboard side

...... above & below the waterline as well as a leakage in a bunker tank containing about 500 cu meters of fuel oil.

Curse of The PEQUOT

The Pequod is the fictional 19th century Nantucket whaling ship that appears in the 1851 novel Moby-Dick by U.S. author Herman Melville. The Pequod and her crew, commanded by Captain Ahab, figure prominently in the story, which after the initial chapters takes place nearly entirely aboard the ship during a long three-year whaling cruise in the South Pacific and Indian Oceans - ending in a ramming by The Great Whte Whale. Most of the characters in the novel are part of the crew of the ship, including the narrator Ishmael.

Descriptions of the ship appear throughout the novel, with certain chapters devoted more specifically to the working of the ship and its crew. The depiction of life aboard the ship, although fictionalized, was based on Melville's own experiences in whaling (aboard the Achushnet in the 1840s) and thus can be taken in main ways as representative of mid-19th century Nantucket whaling. The ship is obstensively named for the Algonquian-speaking Pequot tribe of Native Americans who inhabited New England along Long Island Sound during the 17th century but who were annihilated during the Pequot War, "now extinct as the ancient Medes" (Ch. XVI). The reference to a doomed American Indian tribe highlights the fate of the ship and its crew in the novel. Melville somewhat based the story of the ship's ill-fated struggle with a sperm whale -- The "Great White Whale" -- and its subsequent demise on that of the real-life Whaleship Essex. So too was the Pequod doomed.

English Major John Mason was the lead commanding officer of the Puritan militia that attacked the Pequot indian fort in 1637 Connecticutt. According to historical documents, the Puritans attacked the Pequot fort in retribution for the killing of a Puritan by three Pequot Indians. During this time, battles, skirmishes and atrocities between the Indians and the English settlers occurred periodically. Some historians writing about this attack suspect that the Puritans were motivated more by the fact that the Pequots controlled valuable access to the sea and fishing, which would be the area leading to and around Mystic, Connecticutt.

Herman Melville briefly mentions the destruction of the Pequot indians in Moby-Dick as an allusion to the name of Capt. Ahab's ship, the Pequod. Melville, as some others before him in both the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, as well as during his own time, spelled the tribe's name "Pequod". But "Pequoit" is another spelling seen in historical writings. Pequot or Pequod -- in short, spelling was not standardized.

Danish A.P. Moeller-Maersk A/S is the world's biggest shipping company --and Herman Melville's Moby-Dick is perhaps the most enduring & tragic saga of the sea. Has the present joined with the present to explain an inexplicable turn to port by M/V Maersk Holyhead to ram M/V Pequot in history once again? Could this have been a result of the "Curse of The Pequot"?


"Ship Happens! ©"

Flaw in the "Curse of the Pequot"

........ it is recalled that Melville's famous book ends as strange forces cause The Great White Whale to ram Capt. Ahab's Pequod which sank, taking all her crew to death, except for narrator Ishmael. However, our interesting theory lacks one important fact for the strange navigational actions of M/T Maersk Holyhead in making her inexplicable port turn into M/V Pequot. Don't worry Maersk -- we do not believe that the Moby-Dick whale was Danish! .

.......and now we have told thee.

The Dedication of This Feature Is Simple: To The Crews of M/T Maresk Holyhead & M/V Pequot and their families. No injuries in this amazing incident.

SPECIAL NOTE: The historic dangers of carriage by sea continue to be quite real. Shippers must be encouraged to purchase high quality marine cargo insurance from their freight forwarder or customs brokerIt's dangerous out there.


 Maearsk Gas Tankers
About Maersk Tankers

S/V Pequod - Moby Dick, Chapter 16 - The Ship

S/V Pequod

S/V Pequod

Ships That Never Were

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SPECIAL NOTE: The historic dangers of carriage by sea continue to be quite real. Shippers must be encouraged to purchase high quality marine cargo insurance from their freight forwarder or customs broker.  It's dangerous out there.
Thanks To Our Contributors For The
"Curse of The Pequot!" Feature

Our Contributors for this feature are:
* Anonymous contributor who wishes to be anonymous

Capt. Paul F. Beglane, VP, Boston Harbor Lobstermen's Association

Peter Christian

NOTE: Please Provide Us With Your Additional Information For This Loss.

EDITOR'S NOTE FOR SURVEYORS, ATTORNEYS & MARINE ADJUSTERS: The Internet edition effort of The Cargo Letter now celebrates it's 8th Year of Service -- making us quite senior in this segment of the industry. We once estimated container underway losses at about 1,500 per year. Lloyd's put that figure at about 10,000 earlier this year. Quite obviously, the reporting mechanism for these massive losses is not supported by the lines. News of these events is not posted to the maritime community. Our new project is to call upon you -- those handling the claims -- to let us know of each container loss at sea-- in confidentiality. Many of you survey on behalf of cargo interests with no need for confidentiality. Others work for the lines & need to be protected. As a respected Int'l publication, The Cargo Letter enjoys full press privileges & cannot be forced to disclose our sources of information. No successful attempt has ever been made. If a personal notation for your report is desired -- each contributor will be given a "hot link" to your company Website in each & every report. Please take moment & report your "overside" containers to us. If you do not wish attribution, your entry will be "anonymous." This will will benefit our industry -- for obvious reasons! McD

* NOTE: The Cargo Letter wants you to know that by keeping the identity of our contributors 100% Confidential, you are able to view our continuing series of "Cargo Disasters." Our friends send us materials which benefit the industry. The materials are provided to our news publication with complete and enforceable confidentiality for the sender. In turn, we provide these materials to you.  

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