Hull Crack Leads to Fuel Leak Aboard U.S. Con/Ro Matsonia

Image courtesy USCG

Published Feb 22, 2019 7:34 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Thursday, crewmembers aboard the U.S.-flagged boxship Matsonia noticed a sheen around their vessel shortly after mooring at Oakland, and a dive inspection revealed a leaking crack located 15 feet below the waterline. 

After they spotted the sheen, the Matsonia's crew launched the ship’s vessel response plan, notified the Coast Guard and the National Response Center about the incident and placed a containment boom around the ship. Coast Guard marine inspectors were on scene within an hour to conduct an assessment and ensure that spill containment was in place.

Divers contracted to investigate the sheen discovered a fracture in the hull of the ship approximately 15 feet below the waterline, adjacent to a heavy fuel oil tank. 

Matsonia's crew carried out an internal transfer of the heavy fuel oil to other fuel tanks throughout the ship on Friday to reduce the potential for more fuel to enter the water. A barge is expected to arrive late Friday night to offload more of her fuel. Once the leaking fuel tank is safe to enter, Coast Guard marine inspectors will inspect the vessel and oversee repairs. 

The 46-year-old steamship Matsonia is a Jones Act con/ro active on the Hawaii-California route. She is one of the ten Ponce-class variants built in the 1960s and 1970s by Sun Shipbuilding; after Matsonia's delivery in 1973, the yard would go on to build the similar ro/ros SS El Morro, SS Great Land, SS El Yunque and SS El Faro (launched under different names). 

According to the Sun Ship Historical Society, Matsonia is the last of the Sun Ship ro/ros still in service.