Nov 262014
 
Ovit

All the key ingredients for a navigational accident were in place long before the Malta-flagged oil and chemical tanker Ovit grounded on the Varne Bank in the Dover Strait in the early morning darkness of 18 September 2013. The report on the incident from the Marine Accident Investigation Branch, MAIB, identifies several layers of factors, not all of them on the bridge of the Ovit, that led to the grounding without which it would not have occurred.

The vessel was equipped with a Maris 900 ECDIS supplied and installed by STT Marine Electronics in Istanbul. An installation certificate issued on 1 April 2011 indicates that all systems had been properly configured and tested. They had not.

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Nov 072014
 
capblanche

Looking out of the window was not really an option for the pilot conducting the 28, 372 GRT containership Cap Blanche on the Fraser River, British Columbia, Canada, on 25 January this year. With fog reducing visibility to 150 metres he could not even see the bow of the 221.62 LOA vessel, but he did have his trusty portable pilotage unit, PPU, which he relied upon exclusively for navigation and connected it to the vessel’s AIS. But the AIS had a secret, one which put Cape Blanche on the silt at the river’s Steveston Bend.

The accident report from Canada’s Transport Safety Board brings to light a little known aspect of navigation by GPS yet one that might not have led to the grounding had the pilot not been essentially left to his own devices even when his actions conflicted with the vessel passage plan.

The PPU had a predictor function that projects the vessel’s future position by performing geometric calculations based on the vessel’s current rate of turn, position, heading, course over ground, COG, and speed over the ground, SOG. The COG and SOG are derived from GPS values that continuously fluctuate, even when the vessel maintains constant speed and course due to inherent errors and inaccuracies in the GPS. To stabilize these values, a GPS smooths these inputs to provides the user with a more stable COG and SOG.

One can often see the GPS fluctuations on a GPS-equipped tablet computer or smartphone.

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Nov 062014
 
scorpio

At 1521 on 3 January 2014 the Liberia registered liquefied gas carrier, Navigator Scorpio, ran aground on Haisborough Sand in the North Sea. The vessel was undamaged by the grounding and there were no injuries or pollution; 2.5 hours later, it refloated on the rising tide. The investigation found that the vessel ran aground in restricted waters after the officer of the watch had become distracted and lost positional awareness. The passage plan was incomplete and the significant effects of wind and strong tidal streams had not been properly taken into account.

Given the proximity to danger, appropriate navigational techniques were not applied and the bridge manning was insufficient. Additionally, weaknesses in the crew’s navigation capability had been identified during an audit of the vessel, however, follow up actions were not sufficient to prevent the grounding.

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Oct 262014
 

This podcast has a special place in MAC’s heart – it was the very first one ever broadcast. At the time we did not have a video production capability or a recording studio so the sound quality may be least than ideal but the lessons remain very current.

An exhausted Captain; single watch-keeping; a warm, cozy bridge at night; the heavy traffic of the Kiel Canal, and pirated navigational software. If you think that sounds like a recipe for disaster, you’d be absolutely right.

Listen To The Podcast

Stripes Continue reading »

Jul 082014
 
tundra

A man apart: Fatigue and both physical and cultural differences played key roles in the grounding of the bulker Tundra.

Take one fatigued pilot, add cultural power distance, loss of situational awareness, a dash of unimplemented Bridge Resource Management , inadequate master-pilot exchange and passage planning and there’s a very good change of something unpleasant happening. TSB Canada’s investigation report into grounding of the bulker Tundra off Sainte Anne-de-Sorel, Quebec, is an interesting collection of what-not-to-does.

Groundings in which pilots are involved are among the most expensive. A study by the International Group of P&I Clubs estimated that although groundings only account for 3 per cent of incidents resulting insurance claims of more than $100,000 they accounted for 35 per cent of the cost of claims at a cost of $7.85m for each incident. That compares with collisions, which accounted for 24 per cent of incidents and costs, and fixed and floating object claims which accounted for 64 per cent of incidents but 33 per cent of claims.

There’s money in them thar ills.

When the pilot boarded the Tundra he did not have up-to-date information regarding the buoys he intended to use for navigation. One buoy has been removed, which was not necessarily going to be problem since the next buoy had distinctly different characteristics than the missing device and the pilot would have recognised the situation and adjusted accordingly. He did not have a documented passage plan – his was in his laptop. Continue reading »

Jun 072014
 

DanioMAC, reading the MAIB report on the grounding of the MV Danio, suspects that the fatigue issue will stay with us until the results cost more than the cure. When ship operators and financially amenable, often corrupt, flag states stop objecting to measures that will ensure that exhausted ships’ officers do not take watches, on their own at night and turning a blind eye to falsified rest records nothing will be done until a major catastrophic, devastating event occurs, something of Titanic equivalence, only  then, driven by public and political pressure will there be substantive effort made to resolve the problem.

When that happens there will be complaints from the industry about trial by publicity. The industry will have deserved that trial and will, in the public domain, quite rightly, be found guilty of negligence and profiteering. Shipowners and flag states will, again quite rightly, not merely be found wanting but criminally negligent. No longer will they be able to shrug their shoulders and blame in on the masters who acceded to them.

Nothing was unusual or unpredictable about the grounding of Danio in an environmentally sensitive area in which a pollution event could have been devastating to wildlife and the economy. It was a tick the box affair as foreseeable as a sunrise. Continue reading »

Apr 192014
 
isamar

MY Isamar

Fortunately no lives were lost when the 24 metre motor yacht Isamar struck the charted the Grand écueil d’Olmeto shoal but poor seamanship sank the rather pretty vessel. One suspects that each of the actions or inactions that led to the casualty seemed like a good idea at the time even if they conflicted with good advice at the time.

That the UK-registered vessel had its radar switched off might not have contributed to the loss but the fact that the echosounder – fathomometer for American readers – was switched on but had no shallow water alarm set might well have done.

It might not have mattered that the Electronic Chart System, ECS, had not been updated for 10 years, while indicating a certain laxity with regard to safe navigation, but the fact that it was used for primary navigation when paper charts are advised when using such a system, and set to a scale that did not reveal that there was a reef in the way, certainly did.

No waypoints or course marks were set on the ECS. After all, the captain had a pair of mark one eyeballs.

There are good reasons why an ECS is not recommended for primary navigation. In Isamar‘s case even at the scale which showed the shoal there were no depth indications.

Continue reading »

Feb 232013
 
Roonagh Pier.

Roonagh Pier.

Eire’s Marine Casualty Investigation Board says that failure of the leading lights at Roonagh Pier were the main cause of the grounding of the passenger ferry Pirate Queen but further investigations revealed serious weaknesses in the navigational procedures and practices on the company vessels. There appeared to be an over reliance on visual aids to
navigation and a neglect to practice and use the electronic aids on board.

On the evening of 20th December 2011 the inter island passenger ferry Pirate Queen grounded on rocks at the entrance to Roonagh Pier, Co. Mayo. The vessel was refloated shortly afterwards and although not holed, it had sustained severe structural damage. Two of the passengers were taken off the ferry whilst she was on the rocks and transferred to the pier by a rigid inflatable boat. One passenger sustained injuries during the incident. Continue reading »

Feb 142013
 
Battered USS Guardian may be first Philippine case under the IMO Code

Battered USS Guardian may be first Philippine case under the IMO Code

Newly appointed US Secretary of State John Kerry has assured his opposite number in the Philippine government, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. del Rosario, of “full cooperation in the salvaging of the USS Guardian as well as in the investigation of the grounding incident and that the US stands ready to fully and appropriately provide compensation for all damages” says the country’s information agency. Of particular note is the willingness of the US Navy to collaborate with Philippine investigators which may open the door to IMO compliant casualty investigations in the country.

Joint investigation of criminal charges are covered in the Visiting Forces Agreement, VFA, between the two countries. The entry of the USS Guardian into a restricted area was a breach of Philippine law. Under the VFA crimes committed by off-duty US military personnel in the Philippines come under the jurisdiction of the Philippines while crimes committed by on-duty personnel are under US jurisdiction. However, recent announcements by the Philippine Coast Guard that its investigation will comply with the non-liability provisions of the IMO Casualty Code may have enabled the US Navy to provide Philippine investigators access to shipboard personnel.

It will be the first investigation in the country carried out in compliance with the code.

Says Del Rosario: “One of the first things we discussed was the USS Guardian incident. We had a very frank discussion between friends. We both agreed on the importance of removing the USS Guardian from the reef without causing further damage,” Secretary del Rosario said, adding “Secretary Kerry reiterated the deep regret of the US government over the incident and its readiness to provide full and appropriate compensation.

“Secretary Kerry said that he himself wants to know and get to the bottom of what truly happened. In this context he said that he wants to be a full partner of the Philippines in finding out what happened and that the U.S. government will cooperate fully with the investigation that the Philippines is conducting,” Secretary del Rosario said, adding that this would include the willingness of the US to accept and answer queries posed by Philippine investigators to key US personnel.

According to Secretary del Rosario, Secretary Kerry is also committed to sharing the findings of the U.S. investigation and to consulting the Philippines and its experts before finalizing its investigation.

“We both agreed that it is important to understand what happened and to take the necessary navigational safety measures to protect the reef and that would prevent other ships from grounding there.”

Currently the Philippines has no official body of trained accident investigators which is complaint with the IMO Casualty Code. The country’s Board of Marine Inquiry, BMI, a quasi-judicial body, considers itself the sole agency authorised to carry out accident enquiries although the board has no professional investigators attached and is primarily concerned with establishing liability. Among potential stumbling blocks is that under current legislation any ‘competent court’ can demand access to data gathered during an investigation, including reports, with a view to establishing blame, which contravenes the IMO Code.

Efforts to establish an IMO compliant investigatory capability Philippines have been hamstrung by a BMI reluctance to have its authority diluted. Efforts to replace the BMI have been consistently blocked despite encouraging reports in 2011. However, the PCG investigation team operating within compliance is hoped to break the deadlock.

See Also

Surprising Development in USS Guardian – Philippines To Invoke IMO Casualty Code

USS Guardian And The Ghost Islands – Human Error Moved Reef

USS Guardian Not Warned Before Grounding

Lessons From The Guardian Grounding – Don’t Trust Charts

Princess Of The Stars – fixing the blame, but not the problem

Unhappy Christmas For Philippines Ferries

An Accidental Wind Of Change In The Philippines

Philippines To Abandon Board Of Marine Inquiry