200269 Emergency Anchoring

10 Mar 2002

Emergency Anchoring
Report No. 200269

Recently a fully loaded tanker entered a port after having previously advised the Port authorities of the draft as being 12 meters even keel. The vessel entered the harbour with a Pilot on board but the Pilot could not read the draft outside the harbour as the sea was rough. After berthing, the draft was checked and found to be 12.5m forward and 12m aft (a head trim of 0.5m).

On the way to the berth, the Pilot found that the vessel was not able to steer with speed less than 5 knots. He considered that this was due to being down by head but the master kept on denying this until berthing. Consequently, the vessel was still making 5 knots when coming into the turning area. The headway had to be checked for taking her to the berth. Astern movements were given in time to stop the vessel, but the movement failed to take effect.

The pilot ordered the port anchor to be let go and to be held at 3 shackles on deck as the depth of water was only 15 meters. The duty officer forward did not check the anchor, fearing that the brake lining would burn. The starboard anchor was then ordered to be let go with same instruction. Again, the officer forward did not check the anchor and allowed all 11 shackles on both the anchors to run out. This action resulted in a near miss collision with a berth. Fortunately, at a distance of 10m away from a berth, the astern movement of the vessel started to take effect, saving the vessel and the port from damage and oil pollution.

In this situation is the question of burning a brake band or losing an anchor important? Are the ship's officers not taught about emergency anchoring? Who should take the blame for an incident like this, considering that the following factors were causal to the near miss?

  1. The declaration of an incorrect loaded ship draft misled the Pilot - the 0.5m down by head caused poor steering and engine response.
  2. Both the anchors were allowed to run out without any attempt to check them.
  3. The astern movement failed to respond.