Case Study: Turning Manoeuvre Goes Wrong

The vessel was moored port side to the berth. It departed in darkness and under pilotage with the assistance of three tugs, two made fast and one on standby. The vessel came clear of the berth and started turning to starboard to enter the channel.

A few minutes later the vessel’s rate of turn slowed and the bridge team realised that the vessel had moved further south than desired, very close to shallow water. At the same time the echo sounder indicated almost zero.

With the assistance of the tugs the vessel was brought north and continued the transit of the channel without further incident.

case study turning manoevre goes wrong
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All tanks were sounded during and after the transit of the channel and engine and rudder movement tests were carried out. No water ingress or abnormality was observed so, with the accord of Class, the vessel continued to the next port where an underwater inspection was to take place.

The company investigation found, among others that:

  • The Master/Pilot information exchange did not include an agreement for the manoeuvring/turning of the vessel after departure.
  • The vessel’s position during the turning manoeuvre was not monitored by the bridge team.
  • The pilot’s instructions to the tug boat skippers during the manoeuvre were conducted in the local language, which was not understood by the rest of the bridge team.

Lessons learned

  • A common understanding of the manoeuvre between pilot and bridge team is a good defence against unintended consequences.
  • Darkness changes everything. Proper and close monitoring of the vessel’s position during port manoeuvring and navigation in restricted waters is always important, but doubly so in darkness.
  • If tug orders are conducted in a language not understood by the bridge team, ask the pilot to keep you informed.


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