The incident

While the vessel turned at Thorn Channel its route was northern than the intended track. The sea room was reduced  and given the environmental conditions, CMA CGM Vasco de Gama was unable to sustain the rate of turn required to remain in the dredged channel. 

This resulted in the ship running aground on a rising tide and on a flat shingle/sand sea-bed. A combination of tugs and ship’s engines enabled it to be re-floated soon after grounding.

Probable cause

After conducting an investigation to detect the cause of the vessel's grounding, UK MAIB concluded the following:

  • The vessel’s bridge team and the port’s pilots had the experience, knowledge and resources available to plan and execute the passage effectively. However, the standards of navigation, communication and effective use of the electronic charting aids onboard did not meet the expectations of the port or the company,
  • A detailed plan had not been produced; the lead pilot had not briefed his plan for the turn round Bramble Bank; the bridge team’s roles and responsibilities were unclear. There was an absence of a shared understanding of the pilot’s intentions for passing other vessels, or for making the critical turns during the passage,
  • Neither the ship’s Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS) not the pilot’s Portable Pilot Unit (PPU) functionality were fully utilized and resulted in each system not providing adequate cross checks or alarms.


ABP Southampton have been recommended to improve their bridge resource management for its pilots, consider the provision of provisional pilotage plans to vessels prior to pilot embarkation and review its implementation of procedures and to improve standards of communication.

CMA Ships have been recommended to review the implementation of company procedures for passage planning and use of ECDIS and to include pilotage and bridge team/pilot integration in its internal audit process.

To read the full report for the accident, click the PDF below: