The incident

APL Danube was transiting Southbound through the Suez Canal in good weather and smooth sea.

A pilot had embarked earlier and was providing navigational advice to the master.

While approaching the Km 133 mark, the vessel suddenly started to swing to starboard.

The helm was ordered hard over to port and the main engine’s revolutions (rpm) of the vessel were increased in an attempt to correct the heading.

However, APL Danube continued to swing to starboard until it ran aground by its bow.

The main engine was set to full astern, leading to the vessel running aground by its stern shortly after.

As a result, the vessel lost her steering capability and was later refloated with the assistance of two tugs.

APL Danube was eventually towed to a dry dock in Dubai for repairs.

The vessel suffered loss of directional power due to bank effect, since it was in close proximity to the Eastern bank of the Suez Canal.


Probable cause

The immediate cause of the accident was identified to be loss of steering due to bank effect.



  1. The preventive measures following the marine incident caused by bank effect, which had occurred on 29 March 2019, had not yet been identified and implemented at the time of grounding;
  2. The route on the ECDIS had been deactivated and consequently, the monitoring feature alarms, including the anti-grounding alarm, were disabled;
  3. It was not excluded that the master/pilot interaction was adversely affected by the initial confrontation on the bridge between the master and the pilot;
  4. No corrective action was taken while the vessel was closing in on the Eastern bank, indicating that the bridge team was not alarmed by the developing situation;
  5. The master was away from the console and discussing ship maintenance with the chief officer during the critical period of the ship’s manoeuvre;
  6. The sudden increase of drift experienced by the vessel was most likely not taken into account during the alteration of course, which influenced the vessel to drift closer to the Eastern bank;
  7. Following the initial groundings of the vessel, it also ran aground by the stern, resulting in severe damages to propeller and rudder.


Actions taken

During the course of the safety investigation, the Company had carried out an internal investigation in line with ISM Code.

Information with regards to the grounding of APL Danube were shared with all vessels within its fleet, in the form of safety alerts and accident feedback.

The Company’s internal investigation report was shared with the Company’s marine superintendents and training centres.

The hours of rest procedures that were incorporated in the SMS, were revised to include delegation of the con while the vessel was on passage through a long canal transit.

This would allow / necessitate the chief officer to take over the con and for the master to be able to take some rest.

In addition, deck officers were further trained specifically on pilot management and monitoring, bank effect and emergency manoeuvres.



Transport Malta recommended CMA CGM ships to:

  • Include a section for ‘contingency plans’ in the master / pilot exchange checklist, to be discussed during the exchange;
  • Update the SMS of all vessels within its fleet to specify that a responsible officer is to supervise the rigging of the pilot ladder, the pilot’s embarkation and disembarkation and to escort the pilot to the bridge;
  • Instruct all deck officers serving on board fleet vessels to use the symbol removal function from the radar display, when pilots request the route to be removed from the display, rather than deactivating the ECDIS route;
  • Display, next to the echo sounder monitors, an indication of the transducers’ positions in relation to the extremities of the vessel.


Explore more herebelow:

APL Danube report