Spain-flagged bulk carrier Muros, which grounded off Norfolk in December 2016, ran into trouble following a change of route to an unsafe area and lack of warnings of danger, according to UK’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB).
An investigation into the incident, which occurred on December 2 while the ship was sailing from Teesport, UK to Rochefort, France, showed that the vessel was following a planned track across Haisborough Sand.
The passage plan in the electronic chart display and information system (ECDIS) had been revised by the second officer less than 3 hours before the grounding and it had not been seen or approved by the master.
A visual check of the track in the ECDIS using a small-scale chart did not identify it to be unsafe, and warnings of the dangers over Haisborough Sand that were automatically generated by the system’s ‘check route’ function were ignored, MAIB said.
The investigation revealed that the second officer monitored the vessel’s position using the ECDIS but did not take any action when the vessel crossed the 10 meter safety contour into shallow water. Although the bulker’s electronic navigation equipment was functioning correctly, the echo sounder had been switched off shortly after leaving Teesport.
Furthermore, the efectiveness of the second officer’s performance “was impacted upon by the time of day and a very low level of arousal and she might have fallen asleep periodically,” MAIB said, adding that the disablement of the ECDIS alarms removed the system’s barriers that could have alerted the second officer to the danger in time for successful avoiding action to be taken.
At the time of the grounding on Haisborough Sand on the east coast of UK the ship was loaded with fertiliser. Attempts to manoeuvre clear of the shallows were unsuccessful but the vessel was re-foated 6 days later with tug assistance.
There were no injuries and no pollution, but damage to Muros’s rudder necessitated the vessel being towed to Rotterdam, Netherlands, for repair.
MAIB also concluded that the ECDIS on board Muros had not been used as expected by the regulators or equipment manufacturers.
After investigated several grounding incidents in which the way the vessels’ ECDIS was confgured and utilised was contributory, the Board launched a safety study, in collaboration with the Danish Maritime Accident Investigation Board, designed to more fully understand why operators are not using ECDIS as envisaged.