Lessons Learnt: Vessel broke free from moorings in strong winds
Vessel Type: Bulk Carrier
The subject vessel was berthed on a NNE heading, port side to an exposed quay for cargo discharge operations. In the early morning, the wind was observed to increase in strength from the NW. The Master ordered the crew to deploy additional mooring ropes, with the final arrangement reported to be 4 head/stern lines, 2 breast lines and 2 spring lines forward and aft. The wind was logged as progressively increasing during the morning, eventually gusting to Beaufort force 9 to 10. With the ship fully exposed to gale force winds on the port beam, she began to move off the berth with all the forward mooring ropes either parting or rendering on the winches. Despite the Master letting go the port anchor, the ship continued to pivot about the stern lines and heavily contacted an opposing quay, causing significant damage to both the port structure and the vessel. The situation was eventually controlled with the assistance of a pilot and tugs and the vessel berthed safely alongside a more sheltered quay.
The strong winds experienced by the vessel had in fact been forecast in a number or weather reports received by the vessel over the 24 hours preceding the incident and should therefore have been expected by the Master. The number of mooring ropes deployed in anticipation of gale force winds was insufficient, particularly taking into consideration the exposed nature of the berth. The Master should also have considered requesting an alternative, more sheltered berth, or even departed for the open sea upon becoming aware of the deteriorating weather forecasts. However, the possibility of proceeding out to sea would depend upon the status of safe stowage and securing of the cargo remaining on board. The Master did belatedly request tug assistance but only after the vessel had started to part her moorings.
- The incident highlights the importance of proper bad weather contingency planning when in port
- The Master should have anticipated the problems experienced by the vessel and prepared accordingly in good time
- Vessels should have the capacity to deploy additional moorings in advance of bad weather. In this case the number of ropes was insufficient
- When making a risk assessment, the Master should have in mind the possibility of vacating an exposed berth as circumstances allow
- The consequences of such loss of control within the confines of a port can be very serious, with risk of damage to vessels and port structures, pollution and death or injury to personnel.
The UK Club’s Loss Prevention team combines practical solutions that address Members’ needs and claims experience with research into the wider issues that impact directly on P&I insurance and the Club’s exposure to claims. Every year, the UK P&I Club deals with thousands of claims using the expertise and experience of its professional claims handlers, ex-seafarers and lawyers. With five decades of research into loss prevention issues the Club has developed a formidable body of technical material on maritime risks. Each month the Loss Prevention team aim to share some of the Club’s claims experience, by looking at real case examples and identifying lessons learnt to help Members avoid similar incidents – you can find past lessons learnt here: https://www.ukpandi.com/loss-prevention/training-advice/lessons-learnt/