Bulk carrier Federal Kivalina ran aground at 0510 hours on 6 October 2008 at Årsundøya in Møre and Romsdal county, Norway, while under pilotage as the ship’s electrician analysed an alleged fault in the AIS. Norway’s Accident Investigation Board highlights bridge team management, passage planning and the master-pilot exchange as vectors in the incident.
After boarding the vessel the pilot tried to connect his laptop computer to the ship’s AIS using the pilot plug but failed and reported the problem to the master. The master called the ship’s electrician who attempted to locate the fault.
Says the AIBN report: “When the ship arrived at the pilot boarding place, the ship’s bridge crew did not have the necessary navigational charts, and they had no passage plan prepared. The result of this was that they did not have the necessary prerequisites for performing safe navigation.”
”The bridge crew never established a passage plan from the pilot boarding place at Grip to the quay. This was not even done after they received the necessary navigational charts on board. It was the second officer’s task to establish this plan. The master did not check whether this had been done, but presumed it was in order.”
“No review was carried out with the bridge crew and the pilot together, as stipulated in the ship’s procedure. There was no communication between the master and the pilot regarding the passage plan.”
“The master did not ask for the pilot’s passage plan and the pilot did not present any such plan. Given that the bridge crew had not studied the passage route earlier and the master was aware of this, even greater efforts should have been made to review the passage plan.
“The chief officer was the navigator on duty from 0400 hours. After Grip, and before the pilot came on board, the responsibilities and tasks of the navigation watch were not carried out in a satisfactory manner according to the ship’s internal procedures and the STCW code. The chief officer did not have access to any voyage plan and was thus unable check whether the ship was sailing according to the plan. The chief officer was therefore unable to provide sufficient information and instructions to the rest of the bridge crew.
“When the cadet was released from his duty as lookout, no one was dedicated to take over his task. Even though the chief officer observed that the ship was approaching land, this did not make him monitor the navigation more closely. This was at a time when the ship was heading for the beacon at Skarvbergneset with a speed of 13 knots and a distance of approximately 1.7-2.3 nautical miles (7-10 minutes before the ship ran aground).
“Even though the chief officer was unsure what the pilot intended to do, he did not try to find out. Nor did he try to find this out from the master. The chief officer was standing in the back of the chart table without ensuring that this was safe and that sufficient lookout had been organised.
“The master was the one communicating with the pilot when the pilot entered the bridge. He also gave some of the engine orders, but the distribution of duties between him and the chief officer had not been clarified as demanded in the procedure.
“An unintended consequence of this was that the chief officer was thus largely sidelined by the master with regard to his duties, but without this having been
expressly stated between them. To some extent, this may explain the chief officer’s passive approach when land was observed ahead, without this being followed up or communicated further. The chief officer was also concerned with some ballast matters.
”When the captain perceived that it was important to get the AIS working, he involved himself in this task and his attention was diverted from navigation. The attention of the chief officer was also diverted from navigation, because the master involved him in checking whether the AIS worked as it should.”
MAC notes, as does the AIBN report, that the AIS was not vital to the safe navigation of the vessel in this case. The attention of those on the bridge was. When a problem arises it is important to prioritise it appropriately: fixing the AIS could have waited.
Also, the bridge team interaction with the pilot was passive, not pro-active. As this incident shows, that’s not wise. If you’re going to put the conduct of your vessel into someone else’s hands you also put your own hard-worked-for career in those same hands.
One thing you really, really want to know is what they are going to do with your ship.