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.

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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

 

Jan 302013
 
Grounded, thanks to bugs

Grounded, thanks to bugs

For the first time since it was put aboard a vessel a fast rescue craft, or daughter craft was launched to carry personnel ashore in Aberdeen. Its engine stopped, due to fuel contamination, and a second craft was sent to tow it. The second craft ran into trouble when its propeller hit a rock and both craft ended up grounding without injury to personnel but significant damage to the craft.

The following investigation showed that the daughter craft had been put onboard over a year earlier in preparation for expanding the role of the vessel to include Safety Standby activities but had not been commissioned or used. During this time water and contamination built up in the DC fuel tanks. The Management of Change process was not utilised during the planning for commissioning the DC and safety standby equipment. Continue reading »

Jan 192013
 

 

USS Guardian - thought the reef was eight nautical miles away

USS Guardian – thought the reef was eight nautical miles away

With a US Navy investigation underway to assess the circumstances surrounding the USS Guardian grounding that occurred in Philippine waters at 02.25 on 17 January local time there are lessons already to be learned: Charts are not infallible even if they are on screen and it is not wise to navigate to fine tolerances with the aid of GPS when the underlying data is less accurate than the GPS.

An inaccurate chart is not a defence – not bumping into bits of ground remains the master’s responsibility.

Much of the Philippine waters have not be surveyed for 50 years or more, an issue highlighted when the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior also grounded on Tubbataha Reef in 2005. The chart in use showed the reef 1.5 miles from where it actually was.

The digital chart aboard USS Guardian, an Avenger-class mine countermeasures vessel, showed a position about eight nautical miles in error. At the time of the grounding the vessel was attempting passage through a channel just half that width.

Many Philippine charts have not been re-surveyed in some 80 years. Transferring this aged data to an electronic chart does not increase its accuracy. The current NGA chart for Tubbataha reef appears to be the 1986 edition, based on Philippine charts of 1975 and earlier.

According to a source in the Philippine Coastguard “With the 1940 or 42 charts by NAMRIA, there might really be a problem with  that’s why we are advised to at least have a difference of Three nautical miles from the shoreline, we have to assume that there is one nautical miles changes in the chart already”.

NAMRIA tells Maritime Accident Casebook that the last hydrographic and topographic survey covering Tubbataha Reef was conducted in 2006 using single beam echosounder for the hydrographic data, 2008 is the latest hydrographic survey using multibeam echosounders. The chart was first published last May 2009 and the reef is marked as a restricted area on current charts.

On Friday, 18 January, the US National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, NGA provided the US Navy with preliminary findings of a review on Digital Nautical Charts (DNC) that contain inaccurate navigation data and may have been a factor in the Guardian grounding.

This followed the realisation by NGA that there might be a potential inaccuracy regarding the Tubbataha Reef digital chart. NGA has reviewed data from more than 150,000 square nautical miles in the surrounding area and found no additional errors.

The incident may also lead to a review of the $30m 2006 joint hydrographic survey agreement between the US Navy and the Philippines after nine years of negotiations. The project was to use advanced sonar technology to map shipping lanes, harbors, and ports throughout the Philippines. However an incident involving a Philippine Maritime Police Patrol vessel firing warning shots against a US Navy survey vessel in January 2008 led to US Navy surveys being restricted to within four nautical miles of the coast.

The project was expected to generate some $300m in commercial value.

Continue reading »

Jan 032013
 
image

The grounding of Atlantic Blue sparked the investigation

An investigation into Queensland pilotage operations has revealed “systemic safety issues” says Australian Transport Safety Bureau, ATSB. Under coastal pilotage regulations, no organisation, including the pilotage provider companies, has been made clearly responsible and held accountable for managing the safety risks associated with pilotage operations. This has meant that responsibility for managing the most safety critical aspects of pilotage has rested with individual pilot contractors instead of an organisation that systematically manages safety risk.

The investigation also identified systemic safety issues surrounding pilot training, fatigue management, incident reporting, competency assessment and use of coastal vessel traffic services. Continue reading »

Dec 222012
 
Mr Ruane’s Lifejacket – note lack of adjustment of waist strap.

Mr Ruane’s Lifejacket – note lack of adjustment of waist strap.

Eire’s Marine Casualty Investigation Board has released reports on two separate incidents of note: A fatal accident in which a fisherman became separated from his lifejacket after his small boat came to grief in Lough Corrib, County Galway and the sinking of MFV Jeanette Roberta off Glandore Harbour, County Cork.

In the first case  on 19th March 2012 two men, who were both wearing life jackets, went angling in an 18ft open boat on Lough Corrib. During the afternoon the boat was struck by a large wave and both men were thrown into the water and were separated from the boat. One man swam to an island and eventually raised the alarm. The other man became separated from his lifejacket.

Both men were airlifted to Galway University Hospital by helicopter, one man was pronounced dead at the hospital and the other was reported suffering from hypothermia. Continue reading »

Dec 212012
 

It was not a pretty picture for the ro-ro freight ferry Norcape aroundwindlassdog Troon Harbour, Scotland on 26-27 November: Bad weather, a failed bowthruster, a damaged windlass and a seafarer injured as a line fouled a propeller, says the UK’s Maritime Accident Investigation Branch, which has just released a report on the incident together with a safety flyer..

On 26-27 November 2011 the ro-ro freight ferry Norcape
suffered a number of accidents, including windlass damage,
An attempt to berth at Troon in the early hours of 26 November was thwarted by the strength of the wind and one of her two bow thrusters failing. The vessel then proceeded to anchorage, across the Firth of Clyde, off the Isle of Arran, but the weather conditions were too severe for her to remain there. While recovering her anchor, the windlass suffered a catastrophic failure and the anchor and cable had to be slipped to enable the vessel to get underway.

Continue reading »

Dec 192012
 

Damage to Arklow Raider after grounding at entrance to River Boyne

Two recent reports over the past few months, one a grounding the other collision and both with vessels under pilot’s advice, serve as useful lessons regarding hydrodynamic effects and vessel safety even when an expert is aboard.

In the case of Arklow Raider, she grounded as she passed the bar at the mouth of the River Boyne, Eire.

The Marine Casualty Investigation Board report says: “As the vessel approached the river bar, its speed was reportedly reduced. The data from the port’s VTMS gave a speed over the ground of approximately 5.4
knots between the Green and Bull light marks. The speed was 5.1 knots as the vessel passed Aleria light. The speed then dropped to 4.9
knots. At 19:30 hrs. the course was 053°T at 4.3 knots.

“The predicted time of high water was 19:54 hrs., the grounding occurred 20 minutes before the predicted high water. At 19:34 hrs. the vessel would not respond to rudder commands. The Master used both engine and bow thruster in an attempt to resume the correct course. At 19:35 hrs. the vessel touched bottom, veered to port and ran aground”.

Continue reading »