In its Monthly Safety Scenario for May, the Swedish Club describes a vessel grounding while departing port. The incident occurred as the pilot forgot to inform that the buoy had been moved from its original position because the channel was being dredged.
It was evening and the vessel had completed loading and was ready for departure. All pre-departure checklists had been completed. Two pilots boarded the vessel and met the Chief Officer on the bridge, who presented the departure calculations and gave them the pilot card.
The Master, who had visited the port numerous times before, arrived on the bridge just before departure. He had been delayed because he had to complete the final paperwork with the agent. No pilot briefing was held as the Master wanted to leave port as soon as possible. A helmsman was also present on the bridge.
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The vessel departed, the pilot was given the conn and the Master stood alongside monitoring. The pilot started to swing the vessel with the bow towards the quay. One tug assisted the vessel and was positioned pushing on the port quarter. The Second Officer, who was on the stern, reported that the vessel was swinging 80 metres clear of the buoy that marked the channel. The Third Officer was on the bow and reported that the bow was about 100 metres clear of the wharf.
The vessel had a speed of little more than 1 knot astern. The channel was about 250 metres wide, about 1.5 times the vessel’s length. The Chief Officer was in the cockpit and monitoring the radar and electronic chart. At that point, the electronic chart indicated that the vessel was inside the 6 metre contour. The Chief Officer did not inform the Master or pilot about this discrepancy.
The pilot ordered dead slow ahead. Suddenly a loud noise was heard from the stern and the Master realized that the vessel had grounded, and he informed the pilot. The pilot did not respond. The vessel was now swinging quickly to port and the pilot tried to stop the swing by using both the rudder and bow thruster, but the vessel continued to turn and once again touched the bottom. The Master again informed the pilot that the vessel had touched the bottom. The pilot did not acknowledge this and was clearly shocked. The vessel continued to swing to port.
The pilot struggled to stop the swing and tried to straighten up the vessel in the river but did not manage to do this. The bow hit the bottom for the third time, but this time on the port side, and the vessel heeled 2 degrees to starboard, finally coming to rest. The tug managed to push the vessel free while the vessel also used its bow and stern thrusters and the engine forward and astern.
Following refloating, the vessel proceeded to the pilot station with some difficulty because the bridge team had not realized that the rudder was stuck at an angle of 35 degrees to port.
It was later discovered that the buoy had been moved further out from its original position because the channel was being dredged. The pilot had been informed about the dredging operation by the port captain but did not inform the Master or the rest of the bridge team about this.