According to UK MAIB, a cargo vessel grounded on a stone training wall, suffering substantial damage to the hull bottom and significant flooding of the engine room and ballast tanks.
local pilot boarded a cargo vessel in preparation to navigate it into port and, after a brief handover with the master, took the helm. The pilot needed to time the entrance into the approach channel so that there was sufficient water under keel on the rising tide and depth of water on the berth.
Each side of the channel was bordered by stone training walls, which concentrated the tidal water flow out of the river to help keep the channel clear.
Because of the large tidal range the training walls were visible at low tide but submerged during favourable navigation tides, and were marked along their length by beacons.
The ship entered the channel mid-afternoon, 15 minutes after the pilot boarded. He navigated the vessel at slow speed down the starboard side of the channel, waiting for the tide to rise.
The wind and the flood tide pushed the vessel across the channel further to the starboard side and over the top of the training wall.
About 10 minutes later the ship grounded on the eastern training wall, causing substantial damage to the hull bottom and significant flooding of the engine room and ballast tanks.
The ship was refloated and eventually made its way to a safe haven and onwards to a shipyard for repairs.
Although the master and chief officer (C/O) were in the wheelhouse, they had not actively participated in the vessel’s navigation.
Neither the electronic chart systems nor the radars were fully used by the pilot or ship’s crew to monitor the vessel’s position during pilotage.
The ship’s crew had used charts and sailing directions to prepare a passage plan, but did not include details about the arrival pilotage area, the approach channel and river, or any potential hazards.
Furthermore, on boarding the vessel, the pilot did not provide a detailed pilotage plan to the master and verbally communicated scant information.
- Plan: Preparation of a detailed port entry plan would have highlighted the local hazards and optimal tidal conditions. Without visibility of the prepared pilotage plans during the master and pilot exchange, the master and his team were unable to effectively monitor the execution of the pilotage into port. Effective planning, communication and passage monitoring can reduce the likelihood and occurrence of accidents in coastal and pilotage waters.
- Communicate: Pilots provide the master and his team with up-to-date local information. It is important that the bridge team engages the pilot via effective master and pilot exchange and that the vessel’s navigation is not left to the pilot to execute.
- Equipment: Electronic navigation aids should be set up correctly and used to enhance safe navigation, especially in higher risk operational scenarios such as coastal passages and arrival into port.