A Bruised Queen Leads to Revolutionary Thinking

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Jul 242008

A Bruised Queen Leads to Revolutionary Thinking

What strange and dangerous thoughts roam the minds of the investigators of the UK’s Maritime Accident Investigation Branch might be glimpsed in its preliminary report on the contact between the 90,000 gross tonnes Queen Victoria and Valetta’s Pinto Pier in Malta last May.

The intention was to moor the not so venerable Queen – she was launched in 2007 – port side to, which required turning her around 180 degrees. Initially, the master stood at the centre bridge console to control the azipod propulsion units and bow thrusters. Oince the berth was open on the port side the master, the staff captain and the harbour pilot, went to the port bridge wing.

At the time the vessel was moving astern. The master adjusted the control to arrest the sternward movement and nothing happened. Not very regally, she made contact with the pier causing damage to her upper hull and to the pier.

The bridge team realised that the control of the azipod propulsion units had not been transferred to the port bridge wing. Once that was done the vessel manouevred happily alongside safely.

Shipowner Carnival Lines carried out an investigation with recommendations that are included in the MAIB preliminary report. Among those recommendations is a revolutionary proposal that masters should be included in the bridge and console design process.

Bridge design has influenced a number of incidents over the years. Involving those who have to use the equipment in its design sounds dangerously revolutionary. Someone had better keep a careful eye on these people, you never know what they might suggest next. If people who actually have to use this equipment actually get involved in designing them there’s no saying where it might lead.

Doubtless wiser heads will prevail against this egregious pampering of ship’s officers.

Other recommendations include enhanced training, a fleetwide cautionary notice, a review of procedures for transfer and testing of propulsion control and the feasibility of synchronous or follow-up systems.

Giving insight into the design issues are recommendations covering the size of the azipod control indicator lamps fitted to the control consoles, a review of the visual displays fitted on the vessel’s bridge wings, and insulation of noisy equipment on the port bridge wing.

MAIB Preliminary Report here