Close calls are an indicator that something is not quite right and can head-off a potential incident but sadly too often go unreported. This safety alert from the Marine Safety Forum, MSF, is a good example of its kind.
In this case the extra Master was not aware that the Chief Officer had misunderstood his order or had understood the order but erred in carrying it out. It is an example of the fact that communication is a two-way street through command and response.
Here is the safety alert:
“Whilst berthing alongside the vessel was moving ahead along the quay, when the controls were put ahead rather than astern causing the vessel to move quickly towards another vessel.
Corrective action was taken and a collision was avoided. The vessel subsequently berthed without incident.
The vessel was carrying an extra Master, for familiarisation of company procedures and operations. The Bridge Team consisted of the extra Master who was carrying out the manoeuvre and the Chief Officer who was assisting; the Master was also on the bridge supervising. The extra Master was controlling from the after console and the vessel was approximately 1 metre off and moving ahead slowly into a suitable position with guidance provided by the boatman on the quay.
The Chief Officer who was communicating with the boatman informed the extra Master that the vessel was in the correct position and asked him if they wanted him to put the pitch lever astern to stop the forward motion. The extra Master requested a “kick” astern of about 10% pitch to check the vessel. The Chief Officer leaned across the control and applied 10% ahead rather than astern.
Seeing this had not checked the vessel headway he increased the pitch. The Master then realised the error had occurred and alerted the extra Master. The Chief Officer immediately applied the pitch full astern and the extra Master applied the thrusters to clear the vessel ahead. The vessel was then moored alongside safely.
Conclusions from the investigation:
Fleet and Industry Safety Alert to be issued to share the learning from the incident.
Extra Master and Chief Officer to attend a Ship Handling and Bridge Team Management Simulator Training.