Atlanship, owner of the fruit juice carrier Orange Sun which made contact with a dredge in January 2008, has been told by the US National Transportation Safety Board to provide Bridge Resource Management training to its crews.
Says the NTSB: “The recommendation addresses the training of the crew of the fruit juice carrier M/V Orange Sun and other vessels that Atlanship, S.A., operates. The recommendation derives from the NTSB’s investigation of the January 24, 2008, allision of the Orange Sun with the dredge New York in Newark Bay, New Jersey, United States of America, and is consistent with the evidence we found and the analysis we performed. Information supporting the recommendation is discussed below. The NTSB would appreciate a response from you (Atlanship) within 90 days addressing the actions you have taken or intend to take to implement our recommendation.
On January 24, 2008, about 1352 eastern standard time, the Orange Sun allided with
the dredge New York while the juice carrier was outbound under pilotage in Newark Bay.
About 25 minutes into the transit, the pilot ordered a 5° starboard course change from 200° to 205° and then reduced the speed to dead slow ahead as the juice carrier approached the dredge. The helmsman on board the Orange Sun experienced difficulty trying to steady the ship on the ordered course, and after a brief series of increasing port wheel inputs to arrest the vessel’s swing to starboard, he put the wheel to midship, or zero angle. Both the helmsman and the master then made several wheel inputs to try to correct the vessel’s heading, including at least three incorrect wheel inputs to starboard, which the pilot had not ordered and which were made without his knowledge. The actions of the helmsman and the master caused the ship to steer toward the dredge, with insufficient time to avoid the allision.
As a result of the allision, the New York sustained about $6 million in damage, including salvage costs, and the Orange Sun about $330,000. About 100 gallons of mixed oil from the dredge’s machinery was released as a result of the accident. No one was injured.1
The NTSB determined that the probable cause of the allision of the Orange Sun with the dredge New York was the master’s failure to appropriately use bridge resource management and to communicate; specifically, to familiarize his bridge crew with and inform the pilot of the vessel’s occasional tendency to sheer, a characteristic that he had personally experienced. Contributing to the accident were the inappropriate starboard rudder movements made by both the helmsman and the master, which interfered with the pilot’s ability to take appropriate action to prevent the allision. Also contributing was the second officer’s failure to accomplish his primary duty as officer of the watch, which was to properly monitor the helmsman.
As part of its investigation, the NTSB examined whether the bridge crew on the Orange Sun had received training in bridge resource management (BRM) to determine what role, if any, lack of BRM training may have played in this accident. The master and the second officer who were on board the Orange Sun on the day of the allision had not received BRM training because, according to Atlanship, this training was not required when the two officers obtained their licenses.
As the Orange Sun’s operating company, Atlanship is responsible for selecting the crew, training them in ship operations, and ensuring that the crew complies with established procedures. Overall, based on the evidence available to the NTSB, Atlanship appears to have selected properly qualified and certificated mariners to crew the Orange Sun. However, the NTSB would like Atlanship to also provide its officers with BRM training.
Therefore, as a result of its accident investigation, the National Transportation Safety Board makes the following safety recommendation to Atlanship:
Provide your officers recurrent training in the principles of bridge resource management that encourage and emphasize correct and unambiguous communication, information management, role responsibility, and contingency planning. (M-09-18)