The number of navigation incidents in port approaches and anchorages at Bangladeshi port of Chittagong area is on the rise, according to marine insurer Gard.
Gard has been notified of several recent collisions and groundings in the Chittagong Port Authority’s (CPA) outer anchorage, which is very congested with vessels arriving at the anchorage for lighterage operations before entering the river. Additionally, entering the river can in itself be challenging due to strong currents especially during the monsoon season from June to November when the weather conditions can deteriorate with little or no advance warning.
The insurer issued recommendations which would help prevent incidents in the area. These include asking clearance from other vessels when anchoring, paying attention to main engine readiness, as well as conducting lighterage operations when needed as a number of vessels calling Chittagong need to lighter before being able to enter the port due to draft restrictions.
Gard informed that the recommendations, which were made on the back of a number of recent incidents in the area, can be applied at any port where similar circumstances are encountered.
A recent report received from a ship’s master who witnessed one of the incidents describes congested waters in the outer anchorage area. This particular incident happened at “A” anchorage, which is the northernmost anchorage designated for vessels with a draft of over 10 metres.
This incident involved a vessel with a draft of 11.5 metres anchored some 0.4 nautical miles away from another anchored vessel at the anchorage. As this area is known for its soft holding ground and strong currents, “more distance between vessels may be needed when anchoring.”
Namely, the vessel started to drag anchor onto another ship nearby during the ebb tide and shortly thereafter made contact with the other vessel and its rudder became entangled with the other ship’s anchor chain. This was followed by a main engine failure. Both vessels then started to drag their anchors towards other vessels in the area.
The second vessel, which had its anchor cable entangled, had to cut its anchor chain loose to be able to move away from the vessel originally dragging the anchor. The second ship sustained a significant hull breach flooding its no 5 cargo hold.