Jan 312016

Groundings can be surprisingly gentle, undramatic events, but that doesn’t mean that a lot of damage has not been done. so it’s unwise to immediately try and go astern to refloat. But when you’re fatigued you’re subject to making bad decisions, as did the skipper of the Nora Victoria, which led to the foundering of the vessel. While it was a small workboat the lessons apply as much to larger vessels.

At 20:59 local time on Monday 30 June 2014, the workboat Nora Victoria left the quay at Knarholmen in Vestre Bokn. After approximately 12–14 minutes, the skipper activated the autopilot and set course for Høna beacon on the northern tip of Finnøy island. He sat down in the navigator’s seat, where he remained for the rest of the voyage.

At 22:33, ‘Nora Victoria’ grounded approximately 320 metres south-west of Høna beacon. The skipper has stated that he was not conscious during the final part of the journey, and that he only came round when the vessel grounded.

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Mar 162015

One might be forgiven for believing that controllable pitch propeller systems are the illegitimate children of HAL, from the science fiction movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, with a dangerously psychotic mindset all their own. Take the grounding of  the Cyprus-flagged MV Merita at Steubenhöft in Cuxhaven.

Germany’s Bundesstelle für Seeunfalluntersuchung, Federal Bureau of Maritime Casualty Investigation, tells the tale of a disobedient vessel caused by the failure of a worn coupling in the wrong time and place:

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Feb 122015

Voyage aboard a sail training vessel should be a challenging, life-affirming experience but too often cost-cutting and tap-dancing around safety provisions result in loss and tragedy. Such appears to have been the case with the grounding and write-off of the Sail Trainong Vessel Astrid off Ireland’s southern coast, the investigation report of which has been released by the Eire Marine Casualty Investigation Board, MCIB. Continue reading »

Dec 162014

TSB’s report on the contact and grounding incident involving the general cargo vessel Claude A. Desgagnes as it entered Iroquois Lock in the St. Lawrence Seaway, is a tale of sticky decisions, poor communications and whose-in-charge confusion. One lesson is that once you’ve made a decision, keep in constantly under review.

Here’s the short version:

As the vessel proceeded downriver, the master and pilot spoke, but did not develop a shared understanding of the manoeuvre to be used in the approach to the Iroquois Lock. While the pilot had explained his plan to dredge the anchor to the officer of the watch (OOW) earlier in the voyage, the details of the plan were not relayed to the master when he arrived on the bridge.
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Nov 262014

Support our training video crowdfunder based on this incident here

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

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

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.

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