Klara was enroute to Ghent, Belgium, laden with linseed.
A Dutch pilot was on board. Posidana was an outbound ship, assisted by two tugs Braakman and Union 5, navigating slightly on the starboard side of the Canal.
Klara adjusted her course to pass Posidana on the port side.
When Klara was close to the bank on its starboard, the pilot steadied the vessel parallel to the shoreline.
As the two ships approached each other, Klara took a sudden and an uncontrollable sheer to port side.
An immediate reaction on the helm, bow thruster and main engine speed had no effect.
In this unexpected situation, control of Klara was completely lost and a collision with the approaching Posidana and the tug Braakman was unavoidable.
Klara continued swinging to port and collided into Braakman and pushed it against the opposite bank.
Klara, now almost perpendicular to the Canal, was hit by Posidana on her starboard side.
The collision occurred at night and in moderate to good visibility.
Immediately after the collision, Klara sounded the general alarm. It became evident that cargo hold no. 2 had been breached and the vessel took a 5° list, although it remained afloat.
A berth was immediately made available and Klara, manoeuvred by the master, moored at Heros Terminal, Sluiskil.
- The collision was caused by Klara taking an uncontrollable sheer and moving across the path of the approaching vessels;
- Klara smelled the ground while sailing close to the bank;
- Klara’s speed and the close proximity of the bank probably increased the rotational speed of the turn;
- Action taken by Klara’s pilot to check the sheer were insufficient to counteract the hydrodynamic forces acting on the vessel and prevent colliding with Braakman;
- Posidana under tow, was constrained by its draft and was unable to manoeuvre out of the way.
Klara’s managers took the following safety actions:
-All vessels under the management were informed of the collision and the company’s internal investigation report was forwarded to all the crew members;
-The following changes were made in the company’s Safety Management System:
- master, or, in his absence, the duty officer, has the ultimate command of the vessel and the presence of a pilot on board in no way absolves the master or the duty officer from this responsibility;
- navigation by pilot shall be monitored continuously and the duty officer shall ensure that the pilot's advice is acknowledged;
- if the master, or, in his absence, the duty officer, finds the pilot's navigation faulty and that it may create hazardous situation(s) for the vessel, crew or cargo, he shall take appropriate action;
- appropriate action may include relieving the pilot of direct command, and shall be affected by a statement: ‘Pilot, I take over’. When the hazardous situation is clear, the master, at his discretion, may handover navigation to the pilot, subject to the pilot's clear acknowledgement.
-Special attention was drawn to precautions during sailing in shallow and congested waters;
-Training of masters and navigational officers to be carried out regularly for the operation of vessels in inland waterways, its bottom and bank suction / cushion effect, and checked by SQ Manager during regular visits onboard; and
-Assessment of risks before entering shallow waters shall be carried out and risks re-assessed while sailing through these waters.
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