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Case Studies: Catastrophic Vessel Dynamics In Extreme Sea Conditions

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Hurricane Katrina

Tagged Division

Ocean and Marine

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.309.1 - 11.309.22



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Paper Authors

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W. Robert Story Virginia Tech

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Brian LeCroy Virginia Tech

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Christina Pace Virginia Tech

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Michael Palmer Virginia Tech

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Leigh McCue Virginia Tech

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Case Studies: Catastrophic Vessel Dynamics in Extreme Sea Conditions Abstract

Natural disasters have been at the public forefront for the past year, with examples ranging from the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004 to a “freak wave” slamming the Norwegian Dawn at sea in April 2005 to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita during the summer of 2005. While the catastrophic human toll has rightly been the main headline, these events have also taken their toll on the maritime industry as house boats are capsized, oil rigs knocked from their moorings, and vessels of all sizes washed ashore. While many of the recent events that led to heavy damage or capsize of a ship were unpreventable, steps can be taken to inform and educate future ship captains and engineers about extreme sea conditions so as to save cargo, ships, and lives. The authors apply knowledge of ship dynamics to case studies of various vessels caught in ship- threatening natural events, such as hurricanes, tsunamis, rogue waves, and inland storms, to develop a formulation of the extent of risk in these environments and recommendations for operators. By surveying prior research as well as recent and historical incidents, the primary objective of this work is to aid in the prevention of exposure to catastrophic vessel conditions. As a secondary objective, the paper discusses the pedagogical benefits of incorporating these types of case studies in an undergraduate curriculum.

1.0 Introduction

Throughout history, natural disasters have taken their toll on both human lives and the economy. For ships at sea, these disasters loom as a threat to passengers, crew and cargo, as well as to the ships themselves. While the disasters themselves cannot be prevented, measures can be taken to lessen the toll they take on the shipping industry.

In 2004 alone, economic losses attributed to natural disasters exceeded 115 billion dollars, with at least 56 billion of those losses coming from hurricanes striking US mainland, and another estimated 10 billion attributable to the Indian Ocean tsunami.1 These losses pale in comparison to the losses in human life, but much can be learned from these events and that knowledge applied to reduce the risk of both human and economic losses. Four of the most destructive natural threats to shipping are hurricanes, rogue waves, inland storms, and tsunamis. Though the first three are much more common occurrences, all four have the potential to cause substantial damage to ships that are exposed to the brunt of their powerful forces.

Hurricanes create some of the most powerful and destructive winds known to the maritime industry. Causing billions of dollars worth of damage and taking lives every year, they are one of the most dangerous aspects of nature. Often unavoidable, these storms usually strike several times a year. The best way of dealing with them is to avoid or minimize contact altogether. With the increasing technology used in weather forecasting, meteorologists are more adequately predicting the paths of these hurricanes, which aids in avoidance.2

Story, W. R., & LeCroy, B., & Pace, C., & Palmer, M., & McCue, L. (2006, June), Case Studies: Catastrophic Vessel Dynamics In Extreme Sea Conditions Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--262

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