“Freyja directs/the sittings in the hall./She half the fallen chooses each day,”
Chart updates came too late for the Danish cargo ship Freya to be directed around a light structure at the entrance to the Elbe on 16 December 2008, according to Germany’s Bundesstel le für Seeunfalluntersuchung, Federal Bureau of Maritime Casualty Investigation. The resulting contact – allision to our American readers -severely damaged the cargo ship and demolished the structure.
In its summary, BSU says: “On the evening of 16 December 2008, the Dutch cargo ship FREYA put out of the Hamburg port heading to sea. The next port of call was Oslo / Norway. The ship’s command and an apprentice were on the bridge, both citizens of the Netherlands.
”The FREYA was exempt from the obligation to accept a pilot. Navigation was on the basis of the nautical paper chart; the electronic nautical chart was not in operation. The ship was operated in the autopilot mode. The two radar systems were operated in North up, relative mode.
”The weather conditions were good. The wind blew from the south at 3 Bft and it was cloudy, but there was no rainfall. As the FREYA reached the Elbe approach at 2200, there was an ebb stream of about 2 kts. The voyage speed of FREYA was 18 kts over ground.
”As the FREYA passed the light buoy 24 at the location of Gelbsand, preparations were made for the next course alteration to port. At this moment a lighted cardinal buoy had been spotted for the first time on the portside ahead. The buoy was one of two south-cardinal buoys that secured a construction area for building the Gelbsand leading light outside the fairway at the location of the light buoy 22. A restricted area had been set up around the construction area. FREYA’s command did not see any indication of the construction area on the nautical chart, because the corresponding official chart correction was not yet available on board.
FREYA was called by the Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) Cuxhaven using VHF and was requested to execute a “hard to port” manoeuvre. At the conning position on the bridge, a switchover to manual control was then made, the rate of speed reduced and a “hard to port” executed. Meanwhile, the VTS made further calls. At 2216 the FREYA collided with the front light structure. The cargo ship was severely damaged. Water entered the forepeak. Nevertheless, the ship was able to anchor in the Neuwerk roads without needing any support.
”Nobody was injured and no substances hazardous to the environment were released due to this marine accident.”
Investigators were unable to use information from the Voyage Data Recorder. The device only stored a maximum of three backups, requiring one or more to be manually deleted before a new backup could be made. The device storage was full prior to the accident and no backup was made.
The restricted area and the light construction were not marked on the BA chart 3619 in use on the vessel. Says the report: “On the day of the accident, the FREYA was being navigated on the basis of the official British Admiralty nautical paper chart BA 3619. The chart was purchased in October 2008 from a licensed dealer based on revision status 45th delivery, and was corrected on board to the revision status of the 47th delivery. The corrections were documented accordingly… notification about the construction area between buoys 24 and 22 also later appeared in the Nachrichten für Seefahrer (German Notices to Mariners, NfS, edition 43/08). In general, the changes that also concern the official British charts like the BA 3619, are published within a few weeks in the official British publication, Notices to Mariners (NM), and made public to the shipping sector. After the publication of the NfS or the NM, it generally takes differing lengths of time until the printed editions of the relevant official publication reach the ships by post in a port.
”In the case of the construction area around the Gelbsand front light, the German NfS containing the building area instructions was published on 24 October 2008 (43/08 edition). The corresponding NM appeared but six weeks later, on 4 December 2008 (49/08 edition). It reached the FREYA by post and was available on board on 17 December 2008, one day after the collision… If the correction instructions had been available on the day of the accident, the absolutely essential adjustment of that days voyage planning would have been evident”.
The investigation concludes: “As the bridge crew viewed a lighted cardinal buoy between buoys 24 and 22, very little time was left for an emergency evading manoeuvre. Finally, neither the avoiding action nor the prompt instructions of the Cuxhaven VTS could prevent the collision.
”The accident investigation could not explain why the bridge crew of the FREYA viewed only one of the two lighted south cardinal buoys. In the end, FREYA rammed directly into the construction framework which was marked additionally with a yellow 360° light.”