Since ATA opened its doors 40 years ago, a consistent area of emphasis has been in boating and marine accident investigation, watercraft testing and boating safety support. Much of our work has been in the area of personal and recreational watercraft; however, our proximity to the Gulf of Mexico and the Houston Ship Channel has also brought many opportunities to do accident reconstruction work on incidents involving heavier commercial vessels, marine facilities and offshore oil rigs. ATA has also been hired by the U.S. Coast Guard to perform forensic investigations on incidents involving their vessels and personnel.

Below are samples of ATA demonstrative graphics and links to supporting videos associated with some of the maritime cases that we have worked on:

3D Animation - Constellation Incident

The bulk cargo ship Maersk Constellation was being loaded with bulgur wheat at a dock on the Houston Ship Channel when it began to take on water through hull damage alleged to have occurred during an earlier fuel bunkering operation. In the litigation which followed, a fuel barge operator was sued for the total value of the lost grain as assessed by marine surveyors. In aiding the defendant, ATA devised a mathematical model of the leak in the hull and an accompanying timeline which illustrated the slow progression of the cargo loss during a 48 hour period in which ballast alarms and other evidence of the breach were ignored by the ship’s crew. In a settlement which followed, the defendant’s portion of the total assessed loss was significantly reduced.

Ship Channel Camera Matching Overlays Presentation

After a barge collided with and knocked over an electric transmission tower at the Houston Ship Channel, ATA used the camera matching facilities available with 3D animation software and the few existing photographs of the accident’s aftermath to prepare a complete graphic model of the overall environment with which key events in the accident scenario and their relationship to each other could be described and understood.

3D Animation of Crew Member Injury

ATA animators used the sophisticated modeling capabilities of the most up-to-date 3D animation software to create realistic static renderings and a real-time animation of a line handing accident in a complex environment of commercial marine vessels and equipment.

In an incident involving alleged anchor damage to an offshore production platform’s subsea umbilical, ATA provided consulting input to our client which included the physical inspection of the recovered umbilical, which was almost 2 miles in length, and a trajectory analysis of the anchor alleged to have caused the damage. The dynamic model of the anchor’s movements was based upon global positioning system (GPS) data from the vessel trailing the anchor, a computational model of the changing shape of the anchor cable’s catenary as the anchor was hoisted while the vessel moved under the influence of stormy seas and topographic survey data for the seafloor in the area of the incident.

3D Animation of Gas Release Incident on Offshore Rig

ATA has worked on numerous projects involving incidents on offshore oil and gas rigs. There is often no substitute for 3D animation to quickly establish a scene or to succinctly explain the relationship of systems and components in the complex offshore facilities environment.

Sample of Line of Sight Testing Video

ATA supported the defense of a U.S. Coast Guard coxswain in a court martial concerning the nighttime collision between a Coast Guard patrol boat and a vessel carrying spectators viewing a Christmas boat parade in San Diego Bay. Among the issues examined in the case and addressed by instrumented testing of the subject Coast Guard boat was the dynamic performance of the boat as it went on plane and the relationship of the boat’s dynamic performance to the operator’s line of sight from his position at the helm.

ATA assisted the U.S. Department of Justice in the prosecution of two Mexican nationals on trial in the death of one U.S. Coastguardsman and the injury of another in the ramming of a Coast Guard small boat deployed from the cutter Halibut in a routine law enforcement inspection mission off the California coast. ATA’s work in the case included stabilization of video of the incident recorded from a Coast Guard surveillance aircraft, analysis of the speed and path of both vessels leading up to the moment of contact and instrumented performance testing of the Mexican boat to establish the steering and throttle inputs required to produce the type of boat movement seen in the video.

Stabilized Aerial Surveillance Video