Pilot’s Intention To Apply Ahead Propulsion Results in Girting



The tug Domingue girted and capsized while assisting the container ship departing from the port of Tulear, Madagascar. As a result of the accident two of Domingue’s five crew died.

Domingue had been connected to vessel’s port quarter to help pull the vessel’s stern off the berth. During the manoeuvre, the prevailing tidal conditions caused vessel to move towards a mooring dolphin. To avoid striking the dolphin, the master briefly manoeuvred his vessel ahead, the pilot did not warn the tug that they would be coming ahead. As the ship built up ahead speed Domingue girted and capsized.

Domingue, capsized following accident

Safety Issues:

  • Domingue was less manoeuvrable than the port’s normal tug which was undergoing maintenance, and its crew were inexperienced in assisting ships.
  • The tug was not fitted with a gog rope, nor did the towing point have any mechanism to release the tow in an emergency and doors and hatches on the tug were open.
  • The extent to which a plan for vessel’s departure had been discussed between the pilot and Domingue’s skipper before commencement is uncertain, and during the manoeuvre no-one on board the ship monitored the tug’s position.

Action Taken:

  • Issued a safety bulletin to its feet highlighting the dangers of working with tugs, including girting, and measures that should be taken on board to minimise the risks.
  • Made amendments to its Fleet Manual Bridge Instructions on the use of tugs and the purpose of the master/pilot information exchange.
  • Committed to providing additional reference information to its feet concerning ship-handling and tug use.
  • Committed to enhancing the content of its ship navigation audits and their frequency.

Crew of Domingue securing tow ropes from CMA CGM Simba


  • Domingue and its crew were able to counter the effects of the wind and tidal stream, but were neither able to counter the effect of Ship’s movements nor prevent the tug from girting, capsizing and foundering.
  • The vessel master’s and pilot’s intention to apply ahead propulsion was not first communicated to Domingue’s crew by the pilot, resulting in the ship moving rapidly ahead before the tug could be manoeuvred in an attempt to prevent it from girting.
  • Domingue’s crew were inexperienced in this type of operation. The tug was not fitted with a gog rope and no emergency means were provided to release the two ropes under tension.
  • It is highly probable that Domingue’s open doors and hatches contributed to its rapid capsize due to downflooding.
  • The success of the departure manoeuvre relied on the tug and its crew being capable of meeting changing manoeuvring demands. This required a common, detailed understanding of the plan, proactive communications and an agreed means for monitoring the tug throughout the towing operation.


In view of current published guidance and the actions since taken by Midocean (IOM) Ltd, no recommendations have been made.

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Source: MAIB


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