Case Studies

  • Ship Design or Fabrication Problem? Analysis Trumps Conjecture in VLCC Bulkhead Failure

    Marine / Metallurgical Engineering
    We need a welding expert! The call came to our office from one of the world’s largest energy companies; we’ll call it the XYZ Co. One of their supertankers, a VLCC (Very Large Crude Carrier), experienced a bulkhead failure during heavy seas while taking on ballast water. The crew saw that a center-line tank wasn’t filling with ballast water at the expected rate. Later the crew discovered that bulkhead perimeter welds had failed allowing water to leak into an empty adjacent compartment.
  • Infestation

    RTI was asked to carry out an investigation to determine the source of an insect infestation on board a ship carrying raw cane sugar in bulk.  After the ship arrived in the port of discharge in the Dominican Republic, the local authorities discovered three species of insect crawling about on deck, and prevented the vessel from discharging her cargo.  A total of eight days were lost at anchor at appreciable cost, until defumigation measures allowed the ship to finally deliver the cargo.  
  • Bell 412 helicopter accident

    Aviation / Expert Witness / Safety Management S...
    RTI was engaged in 2008 to investigate a Bell 412 helicopter accident that had occurred in a remote and hazardous region of the Andes.  The wreckage had actually come to rest on a precipitous mountainside, some 3,500 feet above mean sea level.
  • Safety Management Systems

    Marine / Safety Management Systems
    RTI was asked to carry out a review of the implementation of the safety management system in a shipping company. Concern had been expressed by senior management that after many years of good safety performance, a series of potentially very serious incidents had occurred. The company thought it was doing "all the right things."  So, what had gone wrong?It quickly became apparent that while the company was investigating the incidents as they occurred, they were not identifying the root causes.  These were seen to be inadequate compliance with an insufficient system, deficient internal auditing, and lack of remedial action.  The company has undertaken to:
  • Intellectual Property: Collapsible Cargo Container

    Forensic Investigation / Intellectual Property ...
    RTI's client had invented and set up production of a cargo container that could collapse into a pallet-sized load for storage, or could be erected within minutes into a cargo container with sub-sections, for more effective packing of military cargo.  The construction of the container was comprised of a galvanized steel frame and screen with a grated base that could be erected without the use of screws or bolts.  Coincidentally, a competing product appeared on the market just as the client was engaged in negotiations with U.S. Department of Defense representatives for the acquisition of a number of these containers.  The competing device appeared to have many similar attributes that caused RTI's client to suspect that their patent for the container had been infringed.
  • Injury by Electric Fault: The Domino Effect

    Electrical Engineering / Utilities
    Two employees of an electrical contractor were injured while renovating the top floor of a multi- floor office building in the center of a business district in an urban Virginia location. The contractor was in the process of updating the electrical power distribution system on the top floor of the building. In the process, the contractors were injured by an electric fault and arcing event that resulted in a fire that triggered the sprinkler system. RTI was retained to determine if the alleged defects of the equipment used in the electric power distribution system would have caused the injuries and property damage.