Lack of Communication Results in LNG Carrier VLCC Collision!

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Marine Safety Investigation board reports the investigation and findings into the collision between the Maltese registered LNG carrier Aseem and the Hong Kong registered VLCC Shinyo Ocean, within the passage channel of the Fujairah Offshore Anchorage Area, U.A.E.
on 25 March 2019.

Collision between LNG carrier and VLCC

During the night of 24 March 2019, MT Aseem was approaching the designated
passage channel to the Fujairah Offshore Anchorage Area, U.A.E., while MT Shinyo Ocean was proceeding outwards through the same passage channel.

Aseem established contact with Shinyo Ocean over the VHF radio, and the two vessels
mutually agreed on a suitable course of action.

Aseem conveyed to Shinyo Ocean that she would take a round turn to starboard in order to allow Shinyo Ocean time to leave the anchorage areas; while Shinyo Ocean conveyed to Aseem that she would be altering her course to port in order to leave the anchorage areas and proceed towards the Hormuz Strait.

Shortly after the two vessels commenced their respective actions, another vessel,
which had just left the anchorage areas, was observed crossing ahead of Shinyo Ocean, at a close range.

Due to this situation Shinyo Ocean altered her course from the one conveyed to Aseem; thereby setting the two vessels on a collision course within a short span of time.

On 25 March 2019, at 00061, Aseem and Shinyo Ocean collided. As a result of the
collision, the hulls of both vessels were breached below the waterline, with Shinyo Ocean sustaining extensive damages.

Cause of collision

The safety investigation concluded that the immediate cause of the collision was
communication between the two vessels over the VHF radio, which continued even
when a close-quarter situation had developed, thus reducing the possibility of timely
and effective corrective action until the collision occurred.

The MSIU has made a recommendation to the managers of Shinyo Ocean, designed to
ensure that the safety and latent factors are brought to the attention of, and addressed
with the masters and navigating officers within their fleets. One recommendation was
made to the flag State Administration of Malta to emphasize the hazards involved in
VHF radio communication between vessels, for the purpose of collision avoidance.

Actions taken

During the course of the safety investigation, the Company identified a number of
training needs for masters and navigating officers within the fleet. A number of safety
actions were, therefore, adopted with the aim of preventing similar marine accidents
in the future.

  • Ship Manoeuvring Simulation training courses are conducted for all masters
    and chief officers serving in the LNG carrier fleet, every five years;
  • Large Ship Handling Simulation training courses are organised for masters
    joining LNG carriers, prior to their joining;
  • All masters and chief officers serving in the LNG carrier fleet, are required to
    participate in Bridge Team Management courses every five years;
  • A Behaviour-based Safety course for all officers serving on board the
    Company’s LNG carriers has been introduced within the Company’s own
    maritime training institute;
  • A VDR dynamic analysis, consisting of a comprehensive review through
    observation of navigational practices during a voyage, conducted over a fixed
    period of time and involving a critical passage (such as a straits transit,
    pilotage or port approach), is being carried out at random, by a third party, on
    select tankers and gas carriers, to evaluate the human behaviour and activity of
    bridge team management towards compliance with the Company’s procedures
    and other regulations;
  • Navigational audits are conducted out on board the Company’s fleet, in
    accordance with the below schedule:
    within 30 days of joining a vessel and every six months – an audit by the
    master,
    every year – an audit by a marine superintendent, and
    every year – a Static and Dynamic Navigational Assessment by a third
    party which also provides on-board training to all navigational officers;
  • A case study on this accident has been prepared and circulated on board the
    fleet of vessels.

Recommendations

In view of the conclusions reached and taking into consideration the safety actions
taken during the course of the safety investigation,

Synergy Maritime Pvt. Ltd., the managing Company of Shinyo Ocean, is recommended to: Conduct audits/visits on board its vessels with the aim of observing how crew members operate and address system complexities, even in the light of potential fatigue issues, and take the necessary actions to address identified issues.

The flag State Administration of Malta (Merchant Shipping Directorate) is recommended to: Issue an information notice addressed to all ship owners and managers of Maltese registered ships, highlighting the risks of using VHF radios in collision avoidance, especially when in close proximity of other vessels.

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Source: Marine Safety Investigation Report

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