Jun 122011
 

Norman Arrow - swift but poorly designed bridge

Repeated contact incidents in Portsmouth and Le Havre involving the high speed ferry Norman Arrow, one of the largest of its kind in the world, were due to poor bridge design, lack of procedures for manoeuvring the high-sided light-displacement craft in strong winds, poor bridge team management and communications and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s difficulty in assessing whether the visibility from Norman Arrow’s manoeuvring station met the requirements of the High Speed Craft Code says a Marine Accident Investigation Branch report.On 31 March 2010, the UK registered high speed ferry Norman Arrow was damaged when she struck fixed fendering in Portsmouth International Port while attempting to move between berths. Five months later, on 29 August, Norman Arrow was again damaged when she struck a mooring dolphin as she approached her berth in Le Havre, France. There were no injuries, but after both accidents the vessel had to be taken out of service and repaired in dry dock.

CCTV stills captured in Portsmouth Internatonal Port

The accidents occurred as a result of an inability to manoeuvre the vessel as intended in the strong winds encountered. Contributing factors included:

•     The lack of operational procedures for manoeuvring in port with respect to limiting wind speed and relative direction, and the use of tugs;
•     The vessel’s design restricted the ability of personnel on the bridge to see objects near to the vessel;
•     Poor bridge ergonomics;
•     Ineffective bridge team management and use of equipment; and
•     The Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s difficulty in assessing whether the visibility from Norman Arrow’s manoeuvring station met the requirements of the High Speed Craft Code.

Norman Arrow is one of the largest high speed craft in the world, and these two accidents in relatively quick succession underline the potential difficulty of manoeuvring such light-displacement, high-sided craft at slow speed in confined areas and strong winds. The accidents also highlight the need for flag and port states to fully take into account changes in vessel design when determining operating limitations.
After the first accident, recommendations were made to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Louis Dreyfus Lines, and Portsmouth International Port, which were aimed at improving the vessel’s safe operation, particularly in port. In view of these recommendations, and the actions identified by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s formal investigation undertaken following Norman Arrow’s accident in Le Havre, no further recommendations are made in the MAIB report.

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