The case:

A vessel had a near miss with a wellhead within the 500m zone. The vessel Master was preoccupied and did not notice that the vessel was drifting close to the wellhead.

The vessel missed the wellhead by less than 10 meters.

According to IMCA:

"There was only one watchkeeper, the Master, on the bridge at the time. Company procedures for having two watchkeepers on the bridge at all times, were not followed".


  • The client’s voyage procedures were not followed.
  • The Master was preoccupied with change-over procedure which took attention away from the vessel’s movement.
  • The Master assumed that the vessel was going more slowly than it actually was, and had no expectation that the vessel would drift so close to the wellhead.

Lessons learned:

Vessel Masters have overall authority for the health and safety of all personnel onboard the vessel, the safety of the vessel itself and it’s immediate environment.

  • Ensure that watchkeeping procedures for bridge operations are strictly followed.
  • Ensure that client voyage procedures are strictly followed.
  • Ensure that there are sufficient trained, competent and rested people  available at all times for watchkeeping.
  • Follow COLREGs at all times.
  • If a watch officer needs to leave post, ensure a suitable replacement is found before doing so.