Pilot/VTS assisted Collision – Too Many Gentlemen On The Bridge

The UK’s Maritime Accident Investigation Branch has released its full report on the collision between the Audacity and the Leonis in the approaches to the River Humber in April 2007. There was a pilot aboard the Audacity and there was a VTS in operation.  It’s well worth a read.

Among the observations were: ” Effectively, no-one held the con on the bridge of Audacity because both the master and pilot had deferred to the other, there was no discussion or questioning of the intentions of Leonis, and at a critical time they involved themselves with tasks that were inappropriate given the impending close quarters situation.”

Polite deference may be a virtue, but not necessarily in bad visibility.

Also worrying is: “The bridge on Audacity was insufficiently manned in the circumstances and conditions. It did not comply with company requirements or HES instructions to pilots, however no additional resources were requested by the pilot.”

VTS operators made similar errors to the ones made by ships bridge teams that consistently appear in reports on incidents involving vessels with a pilot aboard: “VTS operators did not consider they were able to give advice and guidance to vessels with pilots on board. It was considered that the pilot would know what he was doing and that the operator did not need to be further involved once a pilot was on board.”

Pilots are, indeed, highly trained and extremely knowledgeable but not infallible.

As the American P&I Club video, Stranger On The Bridge advises, “Be more alert, not less, when there is a pilot aboard”.

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