Lessons Learnt: Collision with vessel in anchorage

Covid crew changes

Vessel Type: Bulk Carrier

Incident description

This bulk carrier received instructions to anchor in a designated port anchorage area occupied by other vessels. When approaching the anchorage, the Master placed his vessel on a Northerly heading with the intention of passing between two other anchored vessels, which were approximately 0.5 n.m. apart, and then turning to port into the selected anchorage position. The manoeuvre was being carried out at night with moderate visibility. The wind at the time was SW'ly Beaufort force 5 to 6 and the current was setting East at a rate of 3 knots. Therefore both wind and current were acting on the port side of the vessel. As the bulk carrier was about to pass between the two anchored vessels with the main engine on "dead slow ahead", the Master noticed that he was rapidly setting down onto the vessel anchored to starboard. He immediately ordered "full ahead" to increase the effectiveness of the rudder but the attempted avoiding action was unsuccessful with the starboard side of his vessel colliding with the bow of the anchored vessel.


This is a classic case of failure to observe the golden rule of not passing close ahead of another vessel at anchor. With his vessel's speed down to about 3 knots, the Master should have anticipated the potential difficulties of attempting this manoeuvre under the combined influence of a moderate wind and a strong current setting him down onto the anchored vessel. Instead the bulk carrier should have passed around the stern of the anchored vessel located down wind and current. It is also apparent that the bridge team failed to closely monitor the vessels track which may have alerted them to the danger and to take avoiding action at an earlier stage. With the bulk carrier being considered wholly liable for the incident, the Owners were left facing a substantial claim for repairs and other consequential losses from the other vessel.

Lessons Learnt

  • Never pass close ahead of another vessel at anchor
  • When planning the approach to an anchorage, the effect of wind and current on the manoeuvrability of the vessel should be fully taken into account
  • During the approach to an anchorage, it is vital that the vessel’s position is frequently plotted and progress along the intended track closely monitored
  • A contingency plan should be prepared for aborting the anchoring manoeuvre should weather or navigational conditions deteriorate.
  • Good Bridge Resource Management would encourage members of the bridge team to freely question the Master with the conn should they be in doubt as to his decision making or actions
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/

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