Report: Poor Teamwork Led to Anchoring Casualty
Transport Malta has issued a report into the marine casualty involving the bulker Capri and the tanker Brightoil Legend in Singapore last summer. As in many accidents, the investigators found that ineffective bridge resource management was the primary cause.
On a calm, clear day, with no reported tidal current, Capri was entering the anchorage at Singapore at five knots and preparing to anchor. The Brightoil Legend was to starboard, resting at anchor.
With the engine at half astern and the helm hard over to port, the pilot ordered the port anchor let go, with six shots in the water. Despite helm to port, the Capri swung to starboard, towards the Legend. The pilot ordered full astern and dropped the starboard anchor. The Capri continued her swing to starboard and struck the Legend amidships at a speed of two knots, causing structural damage to both vessels but no pollution and no injuries to crew.
"Capri is fitted with a right handed propeller which pushes the bow to starboard when going astern. In shallow waters, the helm and engine response is weak and she carries her way farthest when fully laden," investigators wrote. "The sluggish engine response caused by the shallows and a strong transverse thrust pushed the bow to starboard. Subsequent running of the engines full astern to take all way off the ship exacerbated the starboard cant towards Brightoil Legend."
Even more than shiphandling, though, Transport Malta found that "the immediate cause of the accident was ineffective team work between the crew members on the bridge and the pilot," summarized below:
- There was little information on the anchoring maneuver discussed during the master-pilot exchange.
- During the passage, the pilot suggested an anchorage far away from the area indicated by the Vessel Traffic Service, and in a location close between two other anchored ships - but the master did not question the change.
- During the Capri's transit, few positions were plotted, and the track on the chart was found to be at variance with AIS, VDR and VTS recorded data.
- The pilot knew where he was going, but did not know the vessel's handling characteristics; the bridge team knew the vessel's handling characteristics, but did not have a clear picture of where the pilot was going. Without good communication, and without strong bridge resource management, the bridge team lacked full situational awareness.
Insurers estimate that human error – typically team error, as in this case, rarely just one individual – is responsible for the majority of marine casualties. In its conclusion, Transport Malta (like many adjusters and researchers) recommended strong bridge resource management training to reduce the risk of casualties like the damage to the Capri and Brightoil Legend.