Improper Bridge Procedures Cause Grounding of Ship!


In its June monthly safety scenario, the Swedish Club reports of vessel that ran aground because the bridge team did not monitor the vessel’s progress through the bridge equipment.

Description of the Incident

The vessel had picked up the pilot and was approaching the fairway to the port. It was
morning with clear skies and light winds. On the bridge were the Master, the pilot the OOW and the helmsman. The Third Officer was the OOW and had completed the pre-arrival checklist.

The vessel was in hand steering mode and the pilot had the conn. The Master had given the pilot a pilot card, but they had not carried out a pilot briefing. The pilot asked for 7 knots in the fairway and lined up the vessel between the buoys.

Moreover, the OOW was responible for monitoring the vessel’s position on the radar and the ECDIS and was filling out the logbook. The vessel passed the first buoys, and everything seemed in order to the Master when he looked outside.

Suddenly, the vessel heavily vibrated and its speed rapidly decreased until it was completely stopped. That was when the master logbook. The vessel passed the first buoys, and everything seemed in order to the Master when he looked outside.

At the same time, when the pilot understood that the vessel had run aground, he started to talk on the VHF in the local language. The vessel had run aground on a bank which was outside the fairway. The vessel was clearly visible outside of the channel on the ECDIS and radar.

This was also confirmed when the position was plotted. The Master began to deballast the vessel and carried out engine manoeuvres in an attempt to get the vessel off the bank. Following, the Chief Engineer contucted the Master and told him that the steering gear was not responding.

Consequently, the Mater halted the engines and asked the Chief Officer to sound all tanks and also take soundings around the vessel. The pilot told him that two tugs were coming from the port to assist the vessel.

Although the master hadn’t signed any salvage contract, but the two tugs began to attempt to re-float the vessel with the assistance of the pilot and authorities. The tugs removed the vessel from the bank the following day.

The Club reports that there was a leading line for the approach, but for some reason it was disregarded.

The passage plan was not berth to berth. If the plan had been berth to berth there would have been a planned route into the port which would have highlighted the discrepancy in the vessel’s position on the ECDIS. The bridge team did not monitor the vessel’s progress with all the available means.

Course of events

It was evening with good visibility and vessel A was approaching port. The Master had received orders to arrive at the pilot station at 20:40, which was one hour earlier than previously planned. To make the new ETA, the speed had to be increased from 10 knots to 14 knots. Instead of following the passage plan, the Master decided to take a shortcut through an anchorage.

Cross track error

On the bridge was the Third Officer, who was the OOW, the Master who had the conn and the Chief Officer who was monitoring traffic both on the radar and visually. He was also talking on the VHF. An AB was manually steering. The Third Officer was filling out the logbook.

The two ARPA radars were in north up, relative motion and the radars were switched between 3 NM and 6 NM range. The CPA alarm was set to 0.3 NM.

The Second Officer who was the Navigation Officer, had already entered the waypoints for the original passage plan into both ARPA radars and the ECDIS, and a cross-track error alarm of 1 cable had been set up.

During the approach, he was not on the bridge and the passage plan was not updated for the shortcut as the Master did not consider it was necessary to update the passage plan.  During the approach to the pilot station, there were two smaller vessels ahead of vessel A that would be overtaken on their starboard side.

Shortly after, the vessels had been overtaken the Master ordered an alteration to port which meant that vessel A crossed in front of the bow of the two vessels. The Master was also aware of two outbound vessels from the port, vessels B and C. These vessels were not acquired on the radar.

Port-to-port passing

Vessel B called up vessel A and asked what their intentions were. The Master responded that he would like to have a port-to-port passing. Vessel B replied that it was turning hard to starboard to make the passing. The Master altered course to starboard. At this time vessel B was about 1 NM away on the port bow.

The Master became aware of vessel C on the port bow. He could see the green, red and forward top lights on vessel C but did not take any action. Vessel A was maintaining a speed of 10 knots.

The Master decided to open up/ increase the CPA by altering 5 degrees to starboard for vessel C. A minute later the Master realised that vessel C was very close, and he ordered full ahead and hard to starboard.

The vessels just passed each other clear by 10 metres. When vessel C was abeam the Master became aware of an island just ahead and he ordered hard to port. When C passed clear the Master ordered midships and then 20 degrees to port.

Rudder not responding

A minute later, the pilot called the vessel on the VHF and asked why the vessel was heading dangerously close to the island. The vessel was now very close to it. The Master once again ordered midships and believed they would stay clear of the island.

Suddenly the vessel started to vibrate heavily and there was a loud noise. The vessel’s speed was reduced to 5 knots. The Master was initially confused about what had happened but then understood that the vessel had hit the bottom but was still making way.

The Master identified that vessel D was at anchor only 0.15 NM ahead of them, at which point the AB informed him that the rudder was not responding.

The Master ordered starboard 20 and then hard to starboard, but the AB repeated that the rudder was not responding. The vessel was now sailing at about 7 knots. The Chief Officer suggested dropping the anchor but the Master declined.

The Master ordered full astern but shortly afterwards vessel A’s bow hit the side of vessel D. The Master reported the grounding to the VTS but did not consider it was necessary to report the collision.

Shortly after, the vessel managed to disengage from vessel D by engine manoeuvres and later dropped anchor.

Lessons learnt and Recommendations

In light of the incident, the Swedish Club highlights that operators should take into consideration the following questions:

  • What were the immediate causes of this accident?
  • Is there a risk that this kind of accident could happen on our vessel?
  • How could this accident have been prevented?
  • According to our procedures what should we have done?
  • What are our requirements for the pilot briefing?
  • What are our procedures regarding bridge roles during arrival and departure, what information should the OOW give the Master and pilot?
  • This passage plan was not berth to berth. Are our passage plans berth to berth?
  • Should we deballast in a situation like this?
  • What are our procedures regarding refloating and salvage?
  • Is it appropriate to try to get off the bank or not?
  • What sections of our SMS would have been breached if any?
  • Does our SMS address these risks?
  • How could we improve our SMS to address these issues?
  • What do you think was the root cause of this accident?
  • Is there any kind of training that we should do that addresses these issues?

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Source: The Swedish Club


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