During cargo operations, the duty deck officer noticed the presence of a large quantity of water within one of the holds. He immediately informed the master and arrangements were made to transfer the water into a holding tank using the hold bilge pumping system.
In preparation for arrival in port to load cargo, the crew rigged the pilot ladder combination on the port side in accordance with the pilot's instructions. The tanker's master manoeuvred the vessel to create a lee for the pilot launch and the pilot transferred from the launch to the rope ladder without incident. Unbeknown to the launch crew, a tripping line attached near to the bottom rung of the ladder fouled a cleat on the near side of the launch and as the craft manoeuvred away, the ladder was stretched and pulled from the ship's side.
The crew were instructed to clean the vessel's cargo holds in preparation for the next cargo. The vessel was underway with sea conditions recorded as slight with no ship movement. In order to gain better access to the upper areas of the hold, the crew arranged to position the high pressure washing equipment on top of portable staging erected on the tank top.
This partly laden tanker was proceeding inbound along a narrow river channel with a pilot on board. The transit was taking place in the early morning hours on a flood tide. Shortly before entering a stretch of the channel with occupied river berths, the pilot ordered the vessel's speed to be reduced from full ahead to half ahead.