Poor Bridge Team Management Lead Serious Grounding

Credit: motomoto-sc-unsplash


A 100 m long, 4,500 gt modern container feeder ship ran aground on the coast while trading between a group of islands. The vessel was on her home run serving on a scheduled loop. 

The grounding occurred at full speed only about 5 nm off her port of call, and in the early morning with an officer on watch standing navigational watch on a six-hour duty turn. 

Visibility was good, weather and sea rough but with no impact on the casualty. The vessel was salvaged by tug but declared a total loss.


Poor bridge team management was identified as having been the root cause of the grounding. The navigational watch pattern was subject to being changed on demand from a standard three-watch system in sea operation – with the master sharing – into a two-watch system – with one watch officer excluded – while serving ports in the islands’ inland waters. 

Thus, the master rotated with the other watch officer on a six-hour interval while the first watch officer was released for in-port cargo handling and operation.

This watch system together with other functions allocated to the watchkeepers resulted in an excessive workload for the officer on watch. 

Fatigue with a resultant deterioration of safety awareness appears to have affected the behaviour of the officer on watch. No lookout was posted on the bridge, no regular fixes were taken, no course monitoring was conducted and the watch alarm was switched off.

Lesson Learnt 

  • Navigational watch routines have to be planned to accommodate all duties allocated to watchkeepers so that they are not impaired by fatigue.
  • Navigational watchkeeping arrangements and principles have to be observed and accomplished in accordance with STCW regulations.
  • Regular monitoring of the ship’s heading and regular position fixing combined with thorough navigation by eye and the utilization of all available technical aids is a standard professional requirement. Do not switch off alarms.
  • The COLREGs and STCW are clear and beyond any doubt. A complete navigational watch team is essential if there is any likelihood of the officer on watch developing stress.

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Source: cdn.imo


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