• Welcome to the new COTI server. We've moved the Citizens to a new server. Please let us know in the COTI Website issue forum if you find any problems.

Starship Accident Data


I am currently seeking outside parties testimonials/stories from past games that involve Starship Accidents, in research for an upcoming article. It is important to note that this does NOT include combat damage. Please feel free to make things up as you see fit

We shall start with two basic categories:

1. Crew Error

2. Equipment Failure

So if you have a related anecdote from your Far-Travelling past, please post it here. Please use this format:

Date (Imperial)
Ship Name

(Case Text Paragraph)

-The Baron
What about sabotage?
Intentional damage by crew seeking to defraud insurance companies or disgruntled crew members.
Damage caused by pirating actions.
Those would usually be in a different category of things the insurance companies would track. ;)

Baron, I bet I can come up with some if I can find my old copies of Aviation Safety magazine....
Had an idea about an impact with a micrometeor that put the sensors out of order. That could cause all kinds of mayhem. Nothing in-game, tho. I could make something up if you'd like...

Pirating counts as Combat in this case, an "externalized mishap"... Sabotage... hmm... could that fall under "crew error" I wonder?

I was rather sadly inspired for this article by the two shuttle accidents. I have the NASA analysis for Challenger, and recently saw the Columbia review. Absolutely chilling what a chunk of styrofoam travelling at 500 mph+ can do.

Think control failures, Life support failure, dock crashes, planetary crashes, orbital debris impacts, etc. We'll start here and move into "externals" like combat and pirates.
Date (Imperial): 023/1107
Ship Name: The Sword of Orion (800 dton Mercenary Cruiser)
Location: Garda-Vilis/Spinward Marches (1118)
Category: Equipment Failure

Misjump to Retinae/Spinward Marches caused through unauthorised replacement of Zuchai crystal by unqualified crewmember using crystal of uncertified origin.

Let this be a lesson to you. Use of other than approved parts and labour risks invalidating your warranty.
Date (Imperial): 113-1110
Ship Name: Sable Magician
Location: Roup/Spinward Marches (2007)
Category: Equipment Failure

Crash of detached duty type S Scout shortly after take off from Roup downport.

Examination of wreckage revealed that a bolt connecting the maneuver drive to the engineering deck had failed due to metal fatigue. This resulted in a cascading series of failures resulting in the maneuver drive catastrophically failing.

The detached duty type S scouts and civilianised conversions such as the type J belter are old vessels.

Recommendations: That annual maintenance schedules on the type S and related types be mandated and must be carried out by certified personnel only.

All type S and related types greater than 40 standard years old be scanned for fatigue of engineering section mounting components.

A similar catastrophic maneuver drive failue is reported to have occurred on 128-1098 to a TL11 build Sidhe class type S. In this case however it was the deck plating that failed due to the crystal iron hulls lattice structure disintegrating under the manuever drive housing. The cause of this has never been established.
Date: 128-1111
Ship: Star of Newfoundland (modified Type M Liner)
Location: Verge/Turin
Category: Structural Failure/Refueling Accident

The Star of Newfoundland was a well-known regional Subsidized Liner operating in the Turin Subsector. The ship had recently (1099) undergone major refit to upgrade hull to partial streamlining.

At 03:45 Standard, the Star of Newfoundland made its first pass on a routine refueling skim of Newfoundland system's primary Gas Giant. All seemed well until 5:33, when the ship repositioned itself for a second skim pass. It was then that the Star of Newfoundland broke apart at the narrow "neck" that connects the circular lounge/observation deck to the main hull.

Analysis from remote satellite data (the flight data recorder being lost) clearly shows the ship encountering an unexpected gravitic torsion effect, which led to the total destruction of the Vessel on forcible entry to the E and D regions of the Gas Giant's atmosphere, with loss of all hands. Fortunately, the ship had only just recently offloaded all passengers on the mainworld. The Accident clearly showed a design flaw in the boom assembly, which has since been refitted in most of the other local liners of the class.
Date: 186-1106 (Date report filed, accident date not on record)
Ship: Trimkhana-Brilliance (800 ton liner)
Location: Regina/Regina
Category: Jump Accident/Drop Tank Failure

The Trimkhana-Brilliance was an 800-dton liner operating under the flag of Tukera Lines. Using drop tanks produced locally by General Shipyards, she was one of the first transports on the new high-capacity commercial run from the Imperial interior into the Regina subsector.

On the date in question, the ship cleared the Regina spaceport with a total of 221 passengers and crew aboard and proceeded normally to 100 diameters. Navy sensor logs examined after the incident reveal no flight path deviations, and neither the ship's transmissions nor any of the onboard records recovered after the incident showed anything amiss.

At 1017 local time, the Trimkhana-Brilliance cleared 100 diameters and began its jump manuever. As far as can be determined, jump fuel expenditure proceeded normally. After jump commit, however, the port inboard drop tank failed to separate from the ship, which resulted in insufficient jump capacity. Automatic systems and engineering crew attempted to abort the jump, but this caused a catastrophic discharge of the ship's jump capacitors.

The immediate capacitor discharge killed the entire engineering crew, destroyed the ship's jump and manuever drives, started several severe fires in engineering, and ruptured several fuel lines leading to the ship's reactor. Although the reactor shut down, the fuel lines leaked hydrogen into the engineering spaces, where the fires ignited it. Flame swept through most of the ship, and only four of the people aboard were alive by the time the escort Yamagmoto arrived for rescue duty.

The cause of the accident was officially listed as "External drop tank failure due to substandard manufacturing procedures and quality control". General Shipyards has never accepted this verdict, arguing that blame should be placed on Ine Givar terrorists known to have been active in the Marches at that time. Regardless, drop tanks have been out of favor in the Spinward Marches ever since.

(Note: I write this with trepidation since this particular accident is so well known. I'm basing this off the JTAS bulletin reprinted in Fifth Frontier War and my imagination, so correct me if I got anything wrong)
Baron- Are you only looking for stories that have actually "happened" in games, or are we free to go with imaginery incidents we think might be representative?
Date: 302-1114
Ship: Verdigris Bounder (Gazelle class Close Escort)
Location: Aramis/Violante
Category: Equipment Failure

Close Escort Verdigris Bounder crash landed in the sea on Violante after a repulsor malfunction.

The repulsors to the forward half of the ship failed during landing due to vibration and damage from drop tank ejection.

The ship had ejected drop tanks 6 times within the last year.

Investigation showed that with each ejection, the conduit on each side containing the power controls for the lift repulsors was crimped around the power cables. The primary cables were routed on the port side and the backup cables were routed on the starboard side between the hull and decking. Vibration from atmospheric passage wore through the insulation shorting out the power. Both cables shorted out within 2 minutes of each other at an altitude of between 12 and 15 Kilometers.

This is a known problem associated with SuSag manufactured close escorts. Checkpoints to inspect the conduits are in an update for the technical inspection data for this series, but the maintenance crew responsible for this ship were using outdated technical manuals.

The ship was wrote off as a loss due to buckling of structural frames, buckling of hull plates and engine damage. Three crew and 2 passengers were killed, all other occupants were severly injured.

Commendations to pilot Lt Revan Oxbow and medic SSgt Vren Dessmore for exceptional performance.
Date: 279-1112
Ship: Vagabond Harrier (Type R Subsidized Merchant)
Location: Arvid/Nicosia
Category: Pilot Error

The Vagabond Harrier was one of a class of ten subsidized merchants built to standard Type R design by the firm of Rimward Autonetics on Keipes/Nicosia and leased to free traders under subsidy. On the date in question, she jumped into the Arvid/Nicosia system on the first leg of a planned seven-month voyage along the main and received clearance to the downport.

While the ship was on final approach, she was observed to be flying slightly erratically. When queried, the pilot indicated that he wished to continue the landing. While descending into its berth, however, the Vagabond crashed into the surrounding terminal structure at an altitude of approximately twenty meters. The ship flipped on its side and fell onto the Lucky Seven, an independently owned free trader in the adjoining berth. Fortunately, the ship was unoccupied, and the only serious injuries were four crew and three passengers aboard the Vagabond, all of whom required hospitalization. The Vagabond suffered serious damage that required three months to repair, while the Lucky Seven was written off by her insurers and scrapped.

Subsequent investigation determined that the pilot had spent his entire career flying ships of the Type A far trader and Type S scout/courier class, and was performing his first unsupervised landing of a 400-ton vessel. Apparently, he misjudged the additional inertia of the larger craft and failed to control properly on landing, causing the ship to hit the terminal building. The resulting damage to the ship's electrical system caused the contra-grav to lose power in the forward section, leading to the flip. The accident was attributed to pilot error. The Vagabond's pilot was stripped of his rating and subjected to a civil lawsuit by the insurance company of the Lucky Seven.

(Adventure Seeds: Only an exceptionally cruel GM would put his players in the Lucky Seven's place. But they could be in the next berth over when it happens- do they run to help, run to loot the wrecks for cargo, or run away? Perhaps some patron has cargo on either ship that he needs recovered- quietly, before the accident investigators find it. If cargo is recovered, someone is going to have to take it to where it's going, since neither ship is going anywhere anytime soon. The players could be hired to trace down the Vagabond's pilot, who disappeared as soon as he found out he was being sued for the value of the ship he destroyed- or they could be bodyguards the guy hired to make sure he gets off clean.)

Proximate Cause(s): Life form strike in-flight.
Root Cause(s): Unsuitability of vessel for intended operation.

Description: After striking a life form in-flight and damaging its static discharge probe, the vessel was disabled by several large lightening strikes. The vessel was subsequently abandoned.

CLASSIFIED, a Type A2 far trader, under lease to the Marches Auxiliary Naval Service (MANS) was operating in a gas giant in the CLASSIFIED system. Vessel speed was CLASSIFIED and altitude was CLASSIFIED. For approximately 39 minutes prior to the accident, both the AEMS and PEMS sensor indications were logged as 'confused' due to local weather conditions. At 05:32:46 ship's time, intermittant thermal indications appeared on the forward sensors. Visual confirmation of the thermal sources; several gas giant life forms (see note), by the crew occurred at 05:34:52. Upon visual confirmation, the pilot initiated a maneuver that took the vessel briefly out of its flight preformance envelope. Contact with one of the life forms occurred at 05:35:16.

CLASSIFIED was struck by one of the life forms on her aft, starboard, dorsal quarter. Later review of flight data recorders confirmed that the pilot's actions prevented the vessel from passing through the center of a 'herd' consisting of dozens of the creatures. Contact with the life form and the deliberate placement of the vessel outside of its recommended performance envelope by the pilot resulted in a temporary loss of flight control at 05:35:25. Control was regained by approximately 05:39:00 but not before crew injuries had occurred. It is believed that during this period, the static discharge probe, already damaged by contact with the life form, was torn loose.

A damage assessment was made and, at 05:53:02, the vessel began ascending on a course designed to take her out of the gas giant's atmosphere. At 06:18:47 the first of an undetermined number of lightening strikes hit the vessel. The strikes knocked out the main and auxiliary powerplants, reset all computers, interrupted the gravitic net, and killed a crewman in the port weapons turret. An emergency signaling beacon was launched manually.

The GK signal was immediately picked up by the other vessels involved in CLASSIFIED. Small craft from CLASSIFIED rendezvoused with CLASSIFIED and the entire crew removed. After peaking at an altitude of CLASSIFIED, the vessel was observed by AEMS sensors aboard several boats of the CLASSIFIED SDB Wing entering the gas giant's CLASSIFIED pressure zone and imploding.

All MANS offices are directed to examine the suitablity of far traders of the Empress Marava-class for any future CLASSIFIED operations. Simple upgrades to the sensor suite aboard CLASSIFIED would have allowed the crew to spot the life forms they encountered at a far greater distance and specific structural upgrades may have prevented the loss of the static discharge probe.

(Note: The life forms, colloquially known as 'barrage balloons', are a number of species of very large, sessile, filter feeders found in gas giants both in the Imperium and beyond. While the specifics of each species naturally vary from location to location, 'barrage balloons' usually consist of a large central lifting body or bodies filled with gas and a large number of tendrils, tentacles, or curtains trailing beneath. These life forms range in size from tens of meters to over one kilometer in length.)
Equipment failure:
Date: 105-1113
Ship Name: Robert's Prayer
(Shirnkung Registry S-33859S12A)
Location: Clavian / Shirnkung Far Orbit
Category: Artificial gravity system malfunction

Due to poor preventive maintenance the artificial gravity system of a General Products TL-11 S-Class Courier inverted the typical up/down orientation inside the ship every 30-40 seconds two hours after liftoff. The system could not be shut down due to an unrelated software problem. The cause of the malfunction was a found to be a faulty electro-mechanical gyroscope in the engineering section.
[Edited for spelling]

Pilot & Owner Fault.
Dates: 165-1110
Ship's Name: SS Tir na Nog's Caprice & SS Narcissus
Location: Hefry/Regina/SM & Regina
Category: Collision, Misjump, leaving the scene of an accident, Interstellar flight.

Approximately 2100hrs local time [Hefry having a 21 hour cycle], Hefry SAR was called to rescue crew of the insystem 400dton Lighter-prospector clan ship Tir na Nog's Caprice when they'd made repairs to their comms, the collision that had them spiralling outsystem was reported to have occurred four hours prior by the twelve person crewmembers of the clan of Mackenzie. The ship that collided with them [outbound from Hefry's orbital parking to the 100diameter line], SS Narcissus , a 200dton yacht did not stop for help or relay they had collided, and proceeded to jump. Two of the clansmen died before rescue was made from injuries.
Narcissus owner & pilot emerged from misjump three weeks later in the Regina system, the lanthanum grid on the hull having been damaged from striking the slower less agile spaceraft. The owner, a wealthy playboy type of landless minor nobility his crew, and four "associates" were incarcerated and duly charged.

Investigators noted the 14 meter long x 6-meter wide 'graze' along the hull probably lead to an oblong jump bubble forming, and the subsequent jump-sickness all aboard suffered. Three of the eight crew committed suicide, five were deemed mentally unfit to stand trial, and were sent to the mental Hospital of St. Jude of Roup on Regina. The Owner, one Keniigugii Naashi,and his 4 associates managed to survive the experience through the use of their libertine lifestyle of recreational drugs. Charges of manslaughter were later brought to bear, as well as damages to the lighter from the clan of Mackenzie.

Naashi's family settled out of court with the Hefrian's for an undisclosed sum of credits. Keniigugi and his peers were sentenced eight years in prison on Regina. Naashi's family sold the Yacht at auction after settlement and sentencing for approx. 50% her current value.
crew error
Date 113-993
Ship's Name Bad Penny
Location The reach
category; bad maintence

Crewman Jake Beethoven was injured while installing a temporary grounding circuit. Jake used a shotgun shell as a fuse. The resulting firing of the shell injuried Mr. Beethoven causing the ship to return to port for medical help. Jake ship papers were revoked
[Edited for spelling]
Ship repossession.
Dates: 265-1111
Ship's Name: SS White as Snow, 400dton modified Subsidized Freighter [J2/1G]
Location: Collace, District 268 subsector
Category: Mystery.

At 1500hrs local time, the vessel in question reappeared in the Collace system, minus her 20dton gig, crew complement, and last known passenger manifest. Damage to the vessel appeared minimum, being only the external grapple system for subcraft having been shorn off by some unknown force. Collace SPA & SAR vessels that reached the six-week overdue vessel, found no trace of anyone aboard.

Not one of her 11 crew, 230 lowberthed passengers were aboard. It was, as news reports indicated, as if they just stepped out during midday meal, and vanished, from evidence remaining. Ship's computer and clocks were off, set still on Mertractor time, from whence she had jumped a scheduled on 223-1111.

SS White as Snow was a Converted passenger colonist hauler, equipped with over 200 low berth cradles for cheap colony transport. The owning company has since gone bankrupt, and the vessel sits in orbital parking in the "auction" pen.

The vessel had had a history of accidents [ironically none of them misjumps] before it was purchased by the now defunct 'Transtellar Trade Co.' out of Trexalon/ District 268/SM. At that time it had carried the name SS Mary's Li'l Lamb, and had had no less than seven owners over her 40 year lifespan the last owners, upgrading her jay drives and fuel tankage to support the J-2 needs of their trade.

As Trexalon is a non-aligned world, many questions that have risen on the Imperial side of the border have gone unanswered. The client State of Collace however is holding the vessel at present, in lieu of payment from the Trexalon Technarches, who appear unconcerned about the bill, or the ship, or the fate of those aboard.
DATE: 043 - 1113
LOCATION: Reth/Lanth/Spinward Marches
VESSEL: Commissioner Kluutzak, a Type-R2 subsidized trader

PROXIMATE CAUSES(S): Bad valve line-up
ROOT CAUSES(S): Poor training, poor supervision, poor communications

DESCRIPTION: During a maintenance stand-down, a relief crew aboard Kluutzak pumped nearly 2 kiloliters of concentrated sewage across her berth and onto a ship berthed nearby; Old Grey Mare, a Beowulf-class free trader, causing significant damage.

Commissioner Kluutzak is operated by the government of Rech. Built with jump2 drives, the vessel and her three sister ships provide weekly service between Rech and the Imperial X-boat link at Dinomn. Crews are contracted to fly the vessels for periods of one standard year. A newly contracted crew normally takes over operation of a vessel during one of four maintenance stand-downs during a standard year. A new crew reported aboard Kluutzak on 042-1113.

Portions of the vessel's waste handling systems had failed in operation during the preceding 51 days. That equipment, especially the systems used to inject waste into jump space and the maneuver drive thrust chamber, had been secured from use. A decision was made to hold off on repair to the systems until the coming scheduled maintenance period. With the equipment secured, the vessel instead stored and treated all collected waste before discharging it in port.

The vessel arrived at Rech Downport on 040-1113, discharged passengers and cargo, and was moved to the port's maintenance facility the next day. The newly contracted crew reported aboard on 042-1113 just as preparations of the maintenance period began.

On 042-1113, a facilities worker connected Kluutzak to the port's sewage collection header via her starboard overboard discharge valve. The connection location was communicated to the ship and logged by the duty bridge watch.

At 08:11 on 043-1113, Kluutzak asked for permission to pump all collected waste overboard. Permission by the port was withheld until confirmation of the connection. Port personnel confirmed the connection to the starboard overboard discharge valve at 08:17 and permission to pump waste overboard was granted to the vessel at 08:23. Aboard the vessel, engineering personnel aboard the vessel asked for confirmation of the connection at 09:01. The duty bridge watch verified the connection and then improperly informed engineering that the connection had been made to the port overboard discharge valve. Engineering personnel aboard the vessel completed their preparations and pumping commenced at 09:11.

Sewage from the vessel's onboard storage tank sprayed from of the port discharge valve out to a distance of 40 meters. The spray pattern was also nearly 40 meters in width. The sewage in question was a mixture of both liquids and macerated solids. While the sewage is stored aboard as a nearly water-free concentrate, water is added in the discharge process to assist in pumping. This practice substantially aided the spread of the sewage during the incident.

The sewage discharge was noticed by port workers in and around the vessel's berth immediately. Although Kluutzak was quickly informed of the incident, stopping the discharge took time. By the time the discharge was secured at 09:16, nearly 2 kiloliters of sewage had been spilled. A large portion of the vessel's berth was fouled by the spill and several pieces of port equipment were damaged. A 'Beowulf'-class free trader undergoing repairs in a neighboring berth was also damaged.

That vessel, Old Grey Mare, had numerous parts of its hull opened and internal systems exposed for repairs. The vessel's dorsal turret had also been removed leaving the turret socket exposed. Sewage was able to enter the vessel by these openings, especially via the turret socket.

The port HAZMAT team was called away at 09:33 and arrived at 09:36. All work around and in the two vessels was immediately suspended. Clean-up and decontamination of Kluutzak and her berth was completed by 20:00 on 044. Clean-up and decontamination of the neighboring berth holding Old Grey Mare was completed by the same time. The clean-up and decontamination of Old Grey Mare herself took far more time, not concluding until 055 - 1113. Repairs to the vessel took even longer.

Sewage had entered her hull in several locations and compromised the systems there. On her starboard side, the personnel airlock, the cargo airlock, fuel scoops, several atitiude thrusters, and part of the AEMS array were all damaged. More importantly, the exposed dorsal turret socket allowed a large amount of sewage to enter and compromise many other internal systems. Old Grey Mare was not cleared for flight until 083 - 1113.

As owner-operator of Commissioner Kluutzak, the government of Rech was billed by the SPA for all costs stemming from the sewage spill. Rech is currently appealing those charges.

(Note: I saw something like this happen. It in '83 at Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico and involved an SSN and an old Garcia class FF. The sub was moored across the pier from the frigate and my cruiser was moored on the same pier much further down. We'd just stepped off a bus and were returning to our ship for lunch when we were stopped by some frantic shouting from the frigate's quarterdeck. The 'sewage fountain' from the sub was nearly stopped, just a final gurgling 'blurp' or two pulsed out of her discharge valve fouling the water between her hull and the pier.

It seems the SSN crew had hooked up to the pier's sewage header and then forgot which hull valve they'd tied into. D'oh! They'd then lined up their CHT (chemical holding tank, aka sewage) system to the wrong valve, pressurized the tank with god knows how much PSI (subs use compressed air a lot as pumps make noise), and blown oodles of sh*t and p*ss all over the pier and the frigate. It had taken the sub's quarterdeck a few minutes to get ahold of the engineroom and tell them to stop the blow. During that time, the sub had sprayed sewage like an angled geyser of sorts.

There was a sewage trail of sorts across the pier linking the sub to the frigate. You could pick your way up the pier, watching where you stepped, and hop across the big patches. The pier side of the frigate was another matter though. The hull, the weatherdeck, and a couple of the O levels (decks above the main deck) were smeared with the stuff. It looked awful and smelled even worse.

We laughed all the way back to the ship, ate lunch, and then left on liberty again. The pier had been hosed down by this time, but the real show was on the frigate. A large number of the SUB crew was onboard the frigate with mops, buckets, rags, squeegees, sponges, etc. scrubbing away with lots of soapy water. There were even a couple in scaffolding working on the hull. Lots of khakis (officers and chiefs) from the frigate, sub, and base were milling around and 'supervising'. It was hysterical. I even heard the frigate even got a new partial paint job courtesy of the sub's crew. It was so nice to see some poor 'surface pukes' get one over on the oh-so arrogant Silent Service for once!)
DATE: 213-1112
LOCATION: Limerick/Albadawi/Solomani Rim
VESSEL: Iwasaki Yataro, a Type-A2 Far Trader

PROXIMATE CAUSE(S): Collision with marine mammal during ocean-surface refuelling
ROOT CAUSE(S): Failure to monitor and adhere to local refueling regulations and Notices to Starmen.

DESCRIPTION: The Yataro was a 200-ton Empress Marava class far trader built in 1039. At the time of the accident, it was owned by Yelen Tokolosh, a discharged I.N. veteran and independent ship captain, under a standard mortgage.

On the date in question, the Yataro had just unloaded a cargo of high-tech goods from Evok and had loaded a cargo of local produce for the return journey. Prior to departure, the captain declined to take on fuel at the starport, for the stated reason that the ship's credit balance would not allow it. The Yataro cleared the starport and ascended to orbit, passing over the tracking horizon of the Limerick spaceport on an apparently normal flight path.

Based on reconstruction from flight recorders and other sources, the ship apparently made a three-fifths orbital pass before descending on the other side of the planet. As Limerick's surface is over 90% water, it was relatively simple for the ship to descend through a gap in the world's orbital tracking network. Apparently, the Yataro then began a nap-of-the-earth flight profile and began scooping ocean water as fuel. At approximately 1221 local time, however, the ship apparently struck a cavnaugh, a local marine mammal that have been known to mass up to 80 standard tons, while the animal was close to the surface blowing out its lungs. The ship was severely damaged by the force of the impact, with its contra-grav partially disabled. Due to the ship's low velocity at the time of the collision, the pilot managed to regain control before contact with the surface of the water and the ship was able to make a controlled landing. Passengers and crew were picked up by search-and-rescue forces homing in on an automated distress beacon after a seven-hour wait. The ship sank and has not been recovered.

Subsequent investigation established that the captain had violated starport procedure by failing to file a flight plan for ocean refueling and failing to check the port's listed Notices to Starmen. Upon questioning, Captain Tokolosh stated that he did not file a flight plan to avoid paying the fee imposed on ocean refueling as protection to the starport's operations. He could not account for his failure to monitor the Notices, which contained cautions about the cavnaughs as hazards to refueling operations. Tokolosh was stripped of his master's rating and is currently the subject of a civil action by his mortgage holder for the unpaid value of the ship.

[This was always one of my personal nightmares for ocean refueling. And Mr. Whipsnade- an excellent story, sir. You got a LOL, a ROFL, and whatever other letters you want out of that one]