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

January 29, 2008

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”.


Harlingen/Prinkipo Collision – Poor Training Again

September 24, 2007

MAIB has released it’s Preliminary Enquiry (PE) into the collision of the WMS Harlingen and the Prinkipo on the Humber River in June. the report is given below, but, again, inadequate training both in the technology on the bridge and in Bridge Resource Management appears to be the culprit.

At 0205 UTC on 30 June 2007, a collision occurred between the container vessel WMS Harlingen and the product tanker Prinkipo in the River Humber. WMS Harlingen was on passage from Queen Elizabeth Dock in Hull to Southampton, Prinkipo was inbound to King George Dock, also in Hull. Both vessels had a pilot onboard. The weather at the time of the collision was a south-westerly force 3 wind, cloudy, with good visibility. The tide was flooding at between 2-3 knots.

WMS Harlingen departed the lock at 0155 and turned into the channel with the engine, with controllable pitch propeller, set for half ahead. The bridge team of WMS Harlingen moved from the port bridge wing to the centre console, where control of the steering and bowthrust was taken at 0159, and the auto pilot was set to keep to the starboard side of the channel. The engine control was left on the port bridge wing. At this time, Prinkipo was approaching Salt End, and the two vessels were aimimg to pass each other, port to port, at the Anson buoy.

At 0202, the main engine control of the WMS Harlingen was set to stop on the port console, and 18 seconds later the vessel started to take a sheer to port.

The auto pilot applied helm hard to starboard to counter the sheer, the master then confirmed that hard to starboard had been achieved by engaging hand steering. However the vessel continued to swing to port. On the pilot’s instructions, the master moved the engine control at the centre console to full astern, but without effect as the port wing console was still in command of the engine. The bowthrust was started and placed full to starboard with little effect due to the vessel’s speed, of around 9 knots, through the water. On becoming aware that WMS Harlingen was turning towards them, the bridge team on Prinkipo increased speed and altered course to starboard to increase the passing distance, and then to port to reduce the effect of the imminent collision. This manouever was partly succesful and both vessels sustained only minor damage.

WMS Harlingen continued across the channel with her propeller turning at zero pitch, until she grounded a few minutes after the collision. Twelve minutes after the collision, engine control was transferred to the centre console, and shortly after this it was possible to drive the ship, stern first, back into the channel.