202040 Easy sweet manoeuvre turns sour

06 Jul 2020 MARS 2020

A small tanker was port side to, secured alongside another larger berthed vessel (position 1). The tanker was to shift to the berth just aft of the larger vessel under the guidance of a pilot, a manoeuvre the vessel and crew had performed numerous times in the recent past.

On the bridge at the time were the Master, helmsman, lookout, cadet and pilot. As the manoeuvre began, the vessel remained on the bow spring, with the rudder hard to port and the engine dead slow ahead in order to open the stern from the other vessel.

Once a gap astern was established the bow spring was released and the vessel started to go astern with the bow thruster running at 50% to starboard with engine dead slow astern and rudder midships (position 2). Suddenly, a gust of wind arose from the starboard side and the tanker’s bow was pushed towards the berthed vessel. In reaction, the bow thruster was put to full to starboard and the engine slow ahead and then half ahead with rudder 20° to starboard. However, the vessel’s stern was now too close to the pier and contact was made at about one knot (position 3).


To think about: How would you have avoided this incident? l Use of tug? l Allow more of a gap to develop between the vessels before coming astern? l Less speed astern?

Lessons learned

Hindsight is 20-20. Try and envision your manoeuvre before you undertake it, be conservative and expect the unexpected.