Lessons Learned: Cargo Ship Mishap Highlights Importance Of Pre-Departure Procedures And Engine Monitoring

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  • A general cargo ship was departing a busy anchorage when a mishap nearly resulted in a serious accident.
  • The ship, equipped with a single main engine providing propulsion and power to a bow thruster, experienced a sudden stop shortly after getting underway.
  • This caused a loss of both propulsion and the bow thruster, resulting in the ship slowing down and swinging to starboard, brushing against an anchored and fully laden liquefied natural gas (LNG) carrier.
  • Fortunately, the cargo ship’s crew managed to quickly restart the engine, maneuver away from the LNG carrier, and return to the anchorage for further investigations.

Upon investigation, it was discovered that the engine had stopped because the fuel supply pump had not been started up during the ship’s preparation for departure. The engine had run just long enough on the fuel in the system for the ship to lift the anchor before it stopped. As a result, the cargo ship sustained damage to its foredeck bulwarks, while the LNG carrier incurred minor scrapes to its side. Fortunately, no injuries occurred, but the chief engineer (C/E) undoubtedly felt embarrassed by the oversight.

Lessons Learned

1. Procedure

  • The general cargo ship’s pre-departure procedure incorporated a checklist of tasks necessary for the ship’s readiness.
  • Following a checklist can ensure that critical steps are performed.
  • It is crucial to review and update checklists regularly to suit the operation of the ship.

2. Observation

  • Various alarms and displays support a watchkeeping engineer.
  • In this case, an alarm indicating low fuel pressure went unnoticed as it had not cleared since it first sounded upon the system’s shutdown at the anchorage.
  • The lack of active scrutiny of parameters resulted in the oversight going unnoticed.
  • Vigilance and regular monitoring of critical indicators are essential to prevent similar incidents in the future.

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Source: MAIB