Collision while manoeuvring to pick up Pilot

Casualty Circular No. 1 of 2003


F.No.11 NT(12)/2003                                                                                                     Dated 9th June 2003


Sub: Collision while manoeuvring to pick up Pilot


1. Naration

1.1 A 34,886 tons freighter was manoeuvring to pick up Pilot at an Indian port, very close to where break-water was located. The vessel was in light condition and the bridge was manned by the Master and Third Officer. The wind was Sourh Westerly, Force/5 on the beaufort scale, while the current was North East 3 to 4 knots approximately.

1.2 There was another vessel, a tanker, anchored about one mile away from the freighter, also waiting at the anchorage area. The freighter after picking up anchor used engines on dead-slow speed on northerly course for sometime. Thereafter, the engines were stopped and the vessel was waiting for the arrival of Pilot. At this time, the tanker was about 6 cables off and about 15º on the Starboard bow. Realizing the eminent danger, the master of the freighter started the engines at dead slow ahead with wheel to hard port to clear the vessel. However, the strong current and wind prevailing at that time drifted the freighter on to the tanker and as a result a collision took place.

1.3 There were no injuries to any personnel. However, the freighter sustained major damage in way of No. 5 cargo hold where frames and shell plating were dented and also side shell ruptured. There were also dents on Starboard side Boat Deck. The vessel could not load the cargo and had to proceed for permanent repairs. The tanker also suffered dents on its bulbours bow and its Port bow fair leads got uprooted.

2. Lessons learnt

2.1 The accident occurred due to lack of appreciation on the part of the Bridge Team of the Freighter with regard to prevailing strong current and wind. The rate of drift experienced by the vessel was substantially higher due to the light condition of the vessel and also since the vessel was manoeuvring at very slow speed.

2.2 Ship Owners, Masters and Ship Managers are advised to take cognizance of all local notices to Mariners issued from time to time with regard to peculiarities of weather etc. experienced in various Indian ports. It is also advisable that the Masters should endeavour to contact Port Control Stations to update their information.

2.3 All vessels manoeuvring at approaches to harbour areas should allow for the prevailing wind and current with due regard to their manoeuvring characteristics and also the ship's own condition, i.e. whether in light or loaded.

3. This issues with the approval of the Nautical Adviser to the Govt. of India.

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