Lesson Learned: Bending Of Propeller Shaft Caused By Vessel Grounding


  • A passenger ferry, conducting sightseeing tours, grounded at a speed of 7 knots during ebb tide and restricted visibility, resulting in a bent propeller shaft and the loss of propulsion.
  • The master, navigating in dense fog, deviated from the planned route, leading to the grounding.
  • Lessons learned include the necessity of rigorous voyage planning, maintaining safe practices in restricted visibility, and the importance of a contingency plan to mitigate emergency situations.

What Happened?

A passenger ferry, which took passengers from an international cruise on sightseeing tours
grounded at a speed of 7 knots and lost propulsion. The vessel was transiting at ebb tibe and in restricted visibility. When the vessel started her voyage around noon the visibility was about 2km, with light drizzle and windspeed 5 knots. Over time the visibility reduced to 0.6km with dense fog. Prior to unfortunate grounding, the mate was on lookout in the dense fog and the master was on the bridge navigating and attending to a passenger who requested to manoeuvre the vessel.

Due to the restricted visibility the vessel drifted closer to shore, at a distance of about 100m. The master sighted a green buoy, on the starboard side of the vessel, however could not locate it on the chart plotter. In an attempt to position the vessel clear off the buy, the master altered course to Starboard, however , the vessel touched bottom at a speed of 7 knots, in a jiffy. The master managed to restart the engines. All passengers were made to disembark safely, and informed about the situation. The incident was informed to the port authorities and the vessel was placed under restriction to sail until inspection and repairs had been carried out.


Upon underwater inspection, it was revealed that both the propellers were bent, and the shafts moved stern. The vessel lost her port rudder. There were dents on the port side plating,
however the watertight integrity of the vessel was maintained. It was also revealed that, on the day of the incident, the master navigated an unplanned
passage, deviating from the area of operation.

Lessons Learnt

  • Voyage planning must be carried out by the officers in charge of navigation taking into
    consideration factors such as weather, tide, visibility, vessel size restriction and the like.
  • All officers must be aware of the intended voyage plan and no deviations must be carried out from the intended plans unless an emergency calls for such sudden changes.
  • Safe practices and procedures must be followed while navigating in areas with restricted
    visibility. A lookout must be maintained at all times, and vessels position continuously
  • Any distractions are detrimental while navigating in areas such as shallow waters or high
    traffic situations. Crew must distinguish these situations and pay attention to situational
    awareness and show increased vigilance in such areas and instances.
  • Vessel grounding can lead to loss of life, and even irreversible damage to the vessel. An oil spill can be a consequence of such incidents if watertight integrity of the vessel is lost.
  • A contingency plan must be in place in case of any emergency. Such emergency operations must be discussed and if possible simulated before voyages are undertaken.
  • A risk assessment must be carried out to take into account unforeseen situations that are likely to arise.

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Source: TSB