Lack of Radar and ECDIS Monitoring Ends in Vessel Collision


The Swedish Club presents another collision incidents from its Navigational Claims issue, according to which a dry cargo vessel collided on channel buoys.  None of the seafarers onboard were checking the position of the vessel on the chart, radar, or by any other means than visually.

What happened?

A dry cargo vessel picked the pilot and was heading towards the fairway to the port, while on the bridge was the Master, the pilot, the OOW and the helmsman. The Third Officer was the OOW and had conducted the pre-arrival checklist.

Also, the vessel was in hand steering mode and the pilot had the conn. The OOW was responsible for monitoring the vessel’s position on the radar and the ECDIS, while also filling the logbook.

As the vessel sailed passed the first buoys, the Master checked outside, and everything seemed normal. Suddenly, the vessel heavily vibrated and the speed rapidly decreased and the vessel completely stopped.

Vessel runs aground

When the Master realized that the vessel had run aground, he informed the pilot who did not believe him as the vessel was in the middle of the fairway. Yet, when the pilot realized that the vessel had run aground, he started talking through the VHF in local language.

Specifically, the vessel ran aground on a bank outside the fairway. Therefore, the vessel was visible outside of the channel on the ECDIS and radar.

Deballasting the vessel and conducting engine manoeuvres

In light of the incident, the Master began to deballast the vessel and conducted engine manoeuvres in an attempt to get the vessel off the bank.

Then, the Chief Engineer conducted the Master informing that the steering gear was not responding. The Master immediately stopped the engines and asked the Chief Officer to sound all tanks and also take soundings around the vessel.

The pilot informed that two tugs were coming from the port to help the vessel. When they arrived, despite the fact that the Master had no salvage contract signed, the tugs tried to refloat the vessel assisted by the pilot and the authorities. Yet, the successful removal of the vessel from the bank was achieved the following day.

What should have been done?

  • The bridge team did not check the position of the vessel on the chart, radar, or by any other means than visually.
  • The passage plan should be berth to berth, so there should have been a planned route into the port which would have highlighted the discrepancy in the vessel’s position on the ECDIS.
  • The vessel had an ECDIS, but it appears no one was monitoring the display during the approach.
  • There was a leading line for the approach, but for some reason it was disregarded. The bridge team did not monitor the vessel’s progress with all the available navigational equipment.
  • It is important that the shipowner has a navigation policy that details which navigation equipment should be used and how the bridge should be manned efficiently at different stages of the voyage. Leading lines should always be used, and the vessel’s position should be confirmed by radar, GPS and visually. This was not done.
  • The passage plan should be berth to berth and it should detail how to conduct a pilot briefing. It is obvious that the pilot should have known that the buoys were out of position. It is important that the bridge team follows the passage plan and monitor the actions of the pilot.
  • It is not advisable to try to refloat a vessel until a proper assessment of the grounding location has been performed. The situation needs to be assessed by professionals in cooperation with the insurer, class, authorities and salvors. The Master should not permit local authorities to board the vessel and start a salvage operation without the involvement of the owner.

Following the incident, the Club provides comments from pilot

In essence, it is stated that if one buoy is out of position and a leading light is available any pilot should be able recognise the offset position.

The bridge team should have been concerned when the vessel was not following its intended track.

The position of the vessel should have been verified with alternative means (radar, ECDIS and/or GPS) and without reference to the buoys

If this is a VTS monitored area, the VTS operator should have noticed that the buoys were out of position and they should have informed the pilot about the buoy position beforehand. Also a warning should have been given when the vessel was deviating from the channel.


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Source: Swedish Club


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