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.
After the grounding, the skipper performed a limited damage check before he backed the vessel off and set course for the sound he intended to pass through. After a short while, he discovered that the vessel was taking in water, and he then attempted to run it aground again, without succeeding. The skipper left the vessel at approximately 22:45, and Nora Victoria foundered in the course of the next two minutes.
Norway’s Accident Investigation Board Norway, AIBN, found that Nora Victoria grounded as a result of the skipper falling asleep and therefore not performing an intended change of course in time. The investigation found that the skipper had accumulated a considerable sleep deficit in the course of the preceding few days.
Nora Victoria foundered because the vessel was pulled off the grounding site with punctured hulls and open doors between the engine room and the fore peaks. The skipper experienced the grounding as a relatively slow braking, which contributed to his underestimation of the damage and that he did not expect any leaks. No safety management system had been prepared for Nora Victoria, and the vessel did neither carry a departure checklist nor an emergency procedure in case of grounding.
Nora Victoria was not equipped with a bridge navigational watch alarm system. In Norway, cargo ships of less than 150 gross tonnage are not required to have a bridge navigational watch alarm system. Both national and international regulations require that larger cargo ships are equipped with such systems. AIBN believes that a bridge navigational watch alarm system or a similar barrier would contribute to preventing accidents as a result of the skipper’s sleepiness also for smaller cargo ships. It recommends that the Norwegian Maritime Authority define and implement a requirement for barriers against accidents caused by the skipper’s sleepiness also for cargo ships of less than 150 gross tonnage.
Are your post-grounding procedures in place? Do you have a checklist?
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