WATCHOUT Three groundings – in 30 minutes
In this series, we take a look at maritime accident reports and the lessons that can be learned.
A ship was under pilotage up a river estuary in foggy conditions in the dark. The Master was at the helm and the Chief Officer was also on the bridge. The look-out on the bow saw a vessel looming out of the fog. He called the bridge and informed the Master, in their mutual language, what he had seen. The vessel was at berth, but the Master did not know this and had not been told by the Pilot to expect it. The Master changed course away from the vessel and reduced speed, without telling the Pilot what action he was taking or why. The look-out then reported a second vessel and the Master again changed course, reducing speed further. By now, the ship was being swept along by the tide. The Pilot noticed the course error and attempted to correct it, but the vessel grounded in the shallows near the bank. In attempting to get the vessel out of the shallows, the Master ignored the Pilot’s advice, resulting in the vessel touching bottom twice more.
Why did it happen?
- The Master/Pilot Exchange was poor. The Pilot did not fully explain his passage plan or show the Master a large-scale chart
- Subsequent communication between the Master and the Pilot was poor
- The Master and crew communicated in a language the Pilot did not speak
- The Pilot was not adequately supported by the bridge organisation
- Neither the Master nor the Pilot identified the flaws in the set-up
- The Master relied totally on the Pilot for the safe navigation of the vessel
What changes have been made?
- Port State Control has issued a flyer reminding Masters of the need for Pilots to be adequately supported by bridge teams
- Visiting vessels have been surveyed to gather key information on their use of Pilots in port
- The ship manager was given recommendations about improving passage planning and crewing
IN ATTEMPTING TO GET THE VESSEL OUT OF THE SHALLOWS, THE MASTER IGNORED THE PILOT’S ADVICE, RESULTING IN THE VESSEL TOUCHING BOTTOM TWICE MORE