200610 Heavy weather damage
|Three container vessels have recently suffered heavy-weather damage to deck equipment, bow structure, anchor and containers. After studying the vessel's reports submitted to the company, we are of the opinion that such damages could have been avoided or at least minimised if the ships' officers had taken necessary measures/actions.
We would like to bring to the attention of ships' officers the following for their guidance and to assist them in operating their vessel safely whilst in heavy weather. This information is based on studies made by the classification society.
Container ships are often built with considerable bow flare to accommodate as many containers on deck as possible. Some of the small and medium-sized container vessels have a bow form comparable to that of a cruise liner. These container vessels are usually equipped with significant reserve power to compensate for extra resistance encountered in heavy seas and therefore remain within the generally tight schedule.
Despite the above, there have been many cases where the bow or the stern structure of a container ship has been overloaded and could not withstand the heavy impact load from the waves. In some cases the structure suffered considerable damage. For most ships' officers, especially newly promoted masters with little experience in shiphandling, it is often difficult to recognise that the ship's structure is being overloaded because the view to the bow is blocked by containers on deck. This sometimes makes it impossible to see if green water is being shipped on deck. Also, it is difficult to judge when the damage is not dangerous to the overall safety of the vessel but needs attention to avoid or at least to minimise the damage to the ship and the containers.
Masters should be made aware of the damages of the heavy bow flare impact in operation when heavy weather is encountered. Depending on the loading condition of the vessel, sea and wave conditions in relation to the ship's dimensions, necessary measures should be taken by the master.
In this regard we would like to bring the ships' officers' attention to Solas regulation 10-1 master's discretion for safe navigation:
'The master shall not be constrained by shipowner, charterer or any other person from taking any decision which, in the professional judgement of the master, is necessary for safe navigation, in particular in severe weather and in heavy seas.'