Lessons Learnt: Contact with Jetty

Vessel Type: TankerIncident description

This partly laden tanker was proceeding inbound along a river channel to berth at a jetty for cargo discharge. The transit was being made in daylight in good weather conditions on a flood tide. In addition to the pilot, the master was supported by the second officer with an AB on the helm. In order to berth stemming the tide, it was agreed that the vessel would swing in a turning basin close offshore from the jetty. As the vessel commenced turning to port into the basin, the pilot requested speed reductions from Half Ahead to Dead Slow Astern within the space of 2.5 minutes. At this point the master moved to the port side bridge wing to check upon the position of a tug approaching from astern to make fast. In his absence, the pilot requested Half Ahead on the telegraph to which the second officer complied despite the vessel still making 5 knots headway and closing on the jetty. Upon returning to the wheelhouse, the master noticed the situation and immediately placed the telegraph at full astern and ordered both anchors to be let go. Despite these actions, the vessel's bow contacted the jetty, resulting in significant damage to both ship and shore structures.


The reported circumstances of this incident suggest a lack of control being exercised in the navigation of the vessel in a number of important aspects. It is evident that the speed of the vessel on approach to the berth was not being properly monitored or regulated so as to arrive at the turning basin with sufficient space and time in hand to perform the manoeuvre safely. Not only was the speed excessive but tugs were not made fast prior to commencing the turn as intended. When the pilot ordered a clearly incorrect engine movement during the turn, this should have been challenged by the second officer notwithstanding the master being absent from the wheelhouse at a critical time. Ultimately the bridge resource management exercised between the officers and pilot was inadequate in that the passage plan, including transit speed and execution of the turning manoeuvre should have been discussed and agreed upon at the outset and any departure from the plan promptly addressed.

Lessons Learnt

  • The planned passage to or from a berth are to be fully appraised and agreed upon at the master pilot exchange stage
  • During pilotage passages the vessel speed should be carefully monitored and progressively reduced in good time prior to anticipated manoeuvres
  • Good bridge resource management requires that the pilot and bridge team clearly communicate their intentions and promptly challenge any departure from the passage plan or if otherwise in doubt as to the safety of an order

Staff Author