Is luck a factor in maritime adventures?

NL 42 Is luck a factor in maritime adventures?

by,

Capt Mazlan

Captain M.H.Hamzah
Senior Lecturer,
Malaysian Maritime Academy
Voyage 001 Far-east Asia to Europe

I was fortunate enough to accompany the pilots in berthing the largest container vessel during her maiden voyage to Malaysia recently. The mega box-ship draws 16 meter (m) draft whilst sailing smoothly into port .She has two (02) bow thrusters with 2 500kW each. Three tug boats with a bollard pull of 65,58 and 52 tonnes respectively, escorted her. The sky was brightly lit by lightning when she arrived at the pilot station. We boarded her around 0400 hours and she was all secured fore and aft around 0530 hours. At 400m length with a breadth of 58.6m, it takes great skills to berth her safely during the monsoon season.

Globe Ship

Picture credit to Westports

China Shipping

Picture credit to Westports

 She needs all the luck to survive the current economic downturn. Is luck a factor in maritime adventures?

 Case 1 M.V B Ocenia

The master had more than 8 years command experience. The vessel was making 12.5 knots before she experienced a black-out whilst transiting the Straits of Malacca. Prior to it, a vessel was overtaking on her starboard side, estimated to be at a distance of about five cables. The CPA was also estimated to be about 5 to 6 cables.Except during the blackout, the master remained on the bridge most of the time whilst transiting the straits.

 Once not-under command(NUC), the vessel swing to starboard from 121.6°T until she settled on final heading of 201.8°T at 5 knots. The use of VHF and over-reliance on Automatic Identification System (AIS) were the main causes of distractions that led to the collision. The overtaking vessel hit her broadside and then ran away without offering any assistance. M.V Oceania sank 40 minutes after the collision. Luckily, nobody was injured in this incident. It took another seven (7) days for another vessel to hit her wreck.

 Case 2 M.V Kadmos

The Officer Of the Watch (OOW) had been a watch-keeper since 1990. The lookout had been an able-bodied seaman( AB) for 8 years. M.V Kadmos hit an underwater object whilst transiting Straits of Malacca. Visibility was at 8 nautical miles.

 For an unexplained reason, they missed the navigational warnings \ NAVTEX about the existence of the wreck. It was broadcasted every 4 hours.

 A southerly moderate breeze was not enough to push the vessel away from the course line, drawn on top of the wreck! M.V Kadmos struck the wreck of M.V B Ocenia at full speed.

 Interestingly, the Simplified Voyage Data Recorder (SVDR) data was not saved by the master hence the analysis was partly based on verbal information provided by the crew.

 Case 3 CMA CGM Florida

At 23 knots, having a vessel coming down on the starboard side and fishing vessels on the port side will be a tricky situation for any watch-keepers, especially at night. CMA CGM Florida situation was further complicated by the crossing vessel Chou Shan; the give-way vessel.

 CMA CGM Florida was equipped with Integrated Navigation System (INS). The system had four independent workstations, which could be configured as either a radar, chart radar, electronic chart display and information system (ECDIS), or a display showing conning information.

 On both vessels, the masters had between 3 to 6 years command experience. However, during the collision, only OOWs and lookouts were on the bridge.

 Communication was the main cause of the collision. Over-reliance on AIS was another.

 During the investigation, only CMA CGM Florida Voyage Data Recorder (VDR) was intact. On Chou Shan, 1 minute of audio data was lost. The reason has not been established.

 If only they had slow down, the collision could had been easily avoided. Luckily, nobody was injured in this incident.

 Key questions

With the advent of technology, are collisions and grounding incidents avoidable? Do we allow any room for errors? Why do experience people make mistakes? How can maritime academies learn from the above incidents and avoid making the same mistakes? Could it be pure luck? It is an accident meant to be; an act of God? Should we accept the fact that accidents can happen to anyone, anytime?

 Are risk assessments conducted onboard just an eyewash to satisfy audits and meeting the requirements?

References, Case:

1. MARINE SAFETY INVESTIGATION REPORT – Investigation into the collision and subsequent foundering of the B OCEANIA in the Malacca Strait, Malaysia on 29 July 2011

 2. SAFETY INVESTIGATION REPORT on MV KADMOS contact with submerged wreck In the Malacca Strait on 05 August 2011

 3. Report on the investigation of the collision between CMA CGM Florida and Chou Shan 140 miles east of Shanghai, East China Sea on 19 March 2013

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