Lack of Experience and Information Implicated in Groundings

Ocean Prefect

By The Maritime Executive 05-01-2018 05:20:09

The U.K. Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has released its report on the two separate groundings made by Ocean Prefect while approaching Ahmed Bin Rashid Port in the UAE on June 10 and 11 2017: two pilots were on board each time.

The U.K. registered bulk carrier was not damaged when she grounded the first time, and was re-floated 12 hours later. 

Neither the master nor the second officer had previously visited Umm Al Qaywayn and had to rely solely on the onboard charts and publications to plan the passage into the port. At first glance, the entry via the dredged channel was straightforward as the channel was marked and required only one significant course alteration.

However, the channel was only 100 meters wide and 10 meters deep, and for larger vessels such as Ocean Prefect, with a beam of over 32 meters and a draft over nine meters, there was little margin for error. Consequently, the master’s arrangement of having a pilot to assist with the entry, although a usual practice, was a necessary precaution on this occasion. Given the navigational constraints, the need for tug assistance to berth and the limited information available, it would have been potentially unsafe to attempt entry without one.

During a second attempted entry into the port the following day, Ocean Prefect again grounded but, despite the breaching of three ballast tanks, the vessel continued to her berth. This time, seconds before the grounding, the pilots gave different starboard helm orders which prompted the helmsman to seek clarification from the master. The master told the helmsman to follow only his orders.

Safety lessons

• The pilots had very limited local knowledge.
• The effect of a tidal set was contributory to both groundings.
• Tidal stream data for the port’s approaches was very limited.
• The positions of the navigation marks used to indicate the limits of the port’s approach channel were potentially misleading.
• The port in Umm Al Qaywayn lacked resource and marine expertise.

In December 2017, the Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents presented the safety issues identified in the investigation to the United Arab Emirates’ Federal Transport Authority. The Federal Transport Authority has liaised with the Ahmed Bin Rashid Port and Free Zone Authority to introduce measures to improve the safety of navigation in Umm Al Qaywayn. In addition, Ocean Prefect’s manager, V. Ships (Asia), has promulgated the lessons learned from the vessel’s groundings to its fleet. 

The report is available here.