London P&I Club Warns on Dangers of Using Out-of-Date Charts

The London P&I Club says there is evidence to suggest that out-of-date onboard charts and other nautical publications continue to be a contributory cause of shipping accidents.

In the latest issue of its StopLoss Bulletin, the club notes, “The International Convention for Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) requires that, ‘All ships should carry adequate and up-to-date charts, sailing directions, lists of lights, notices to mariners, tide tables, and all other nautical publications necessary for the intended voyage’. Yet, from time to time, the club receives a report from a P&II ship inspector that the charts or other nautical publications on an entered ship are out of date. Two incidents reviewed recently by the club emphasise why compliance with the requirement is imperative.

“In the first case, a telecommunications company alleged that a submarine cable had been damaged by a ship’s anchor. The first assumption was that, if the anchor had contacted the cable, then it must have been because it was dragging and the ship had not been able to recover the anchor in due time. However, the club-appointed surveyor quickly established that the ship had, in fact, anchored directly over the cable but that the bridge team had been completely unaware of the hazard beneath them. The surveyor identified that the ship had used an old edition of the chart, which predated the laying of the cable. Apparently, on preparing the passage plan, the second officer had not checked that he had the current edition of the chart.

“In the second case, the investigation into the circumstances in which a ship suffered damage as it struck a hazardous wreck confirmed that the current edition of the chart was in use but that it had not been properly corrected. A chart correction showing the wreck had been issued some three years previously.”

The club notes that the UK Hydrographic Office publishes ‘How to keep your Admiralty Charts Up-to-Date’, which is a recommended read for ships using British Admiralty Charts.

Elsewhere in StopLoss, the club looks, among other things, at the consequences of poor passage planning, the dangers of tying dangerous weights to heaving lines, and the need to plan lifting operations for heavy and unusual cargoes.