Video: Intoxicated Pilot Aboard HMM Boxship Hits Dock at Kaohsiung
A containership arriving in Taiwan hit the berth after traveling in excess of the harbor speed according to reports from the port authority and Taiwan’s Maritime and Port Bureau. They are confirming media reports that the pilot assigned to the vessel was legally intoxicated at the time of the incident.
The 80,000 dwt Hyundai Tokyo was arriving from Ningbo, China at the Port of Kaohsiung on March 20 when the harbor master’s office was alerted to the excess speed. The 997-foot vessel, which has a carrying capacity of 6,763 TEU, cleared the breakwater around 9:00 a.m. As it was moving across the harbor, the warning system in the Kaohsiung station began alerting the harbor master’s office that the vessel was traveling above normal speeds.
According to the reports, the vessel was traveling over six knots. The signal station called the pilot four times in less than one minute to warn of the speed but received no reply. The vessel was also being escorted to its berth by a harbor tug.
Video posted on social media shows the vessel sailing at a 90-degree angle and not slowing as approaches the berth. Instead of turning, it proceeds straight with its prow making contact with the steel-reinforced concrete berth.
The crew alerted the Harbor Bureau that the pilot smelled of alcohol. Subsequent tests showed that he was above the legal limits. Newspaper reports are saying he later admitted having been out drinking the night before and reporting to work at 6:00 a.m.
The Maritime and Port Bureau initially detained the containership while inspections were ongoing. The vessel was reported to have suffered only minor damage. It was released and permitted to proceed on March 21 to Shekou, China only after posting a bond for potential damages to the port’s facilities and signing a statement of responsibility.
Divers were scheduled to inspect the underwater areas of the berth to determine the full extent of the damage. The port authority released photos of extensive cracks in the concrete which it said were caused by the vessel’s impact.
Cracks in the concrete caused by the vessel striking the berth (Maritime and Port Bureau photo)