Jul 132012

Late alert left master with few options

“A delay in informing the bridge team about the loss of control air, denied the master valuable time in which to assess the alternative courses of action available. The investigation also identified that the applicable onboard emergency situation check cards contained insufficient detail, and that the machinery breakdown drills that had been conducted were unlikely to prepare the crew for the scenario which unfolded on the day of the accident” says the UK’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch investigation into the heavy contact between the ferry Pride of Calais and the berth at Calais, France.

Pride of Calais lost propulsion when all three main engine clutches disengaged in very quick succession. The loss of propulsion came at a critical point as the vessel was still making good 4.3kts and was only about one ship’s length from her berth. Although letting go the starboard anchor reduced the vessel’s speed to 2.5kts, it did not prevent her striking the berth. Says the report: “The use of both anchors might have been more effective”.

The report highlights the importance of drills to build skills to deal with this sort of situation but recognised potential difficulties with doing so: “the opportunities to conduct  realistic machinery breakdown drills on board  Pride of Calais are severely restricted by the vessel’s operation in the congested waters of the
Dover Strait. Nonetheless, ‘hands on’ drills are unquestionably the best way to train crews to deal effectively with emergency situations and to verify the logic and usefulness of the check cards provided. Therefore, further consideration on how realistic drills can be achieved is warranted”.

Download the MAIB report on Pride of Calais

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