CMA CGM Boxship Grounded due to Improper Pilotage Plan

The 18,000 TEU containership CMA CGM Vasco De Gama ran aground in August 2016 as it was too far north of the intended track when it started turning into the Thorn Channel near the Port of Southampton.

The 399-meter-long ship grounded on the western side of the channel in the early morning hours of August 22 with two Southampton pilots aboard.

The ship’s position at the time of the turining into the Thorn Channel reduced the sea room available for the manoeuvre and, given the environmental conditions, CMA CGM Vasco de Gama was unable to sustain the rate of turn required to remain in the dredged channel, a report released by the UK’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) showed.

The execution of the vessel’s turn around Bramble Bank and into the Thorn Channel by the lead pilot was not in accordance with the port’s guidance for large inbound vessels.

CMA CGM Vasco de Gama’s bridge team, assistant pilot and the Vessel Trafic Services, could not usefully monitor the lead pilot’s actions, or the vessel’s progress through the Precautionary Area, because “a detailed pilotage plan had not been produced; the lead pilot’s intended manoeuvre around Bramble Bank was not explained; the bridge team roles and responsibilities were unclear; and the electronic navigation aids on board were not fully utilised.”

The investigation identifed that the vessel’s bridge team and the port pilots had the experience, knowledge and resources available to efectively plan and execute the pilotage. However, the standards of navigation displayed during the pilotage fell short of the standards expected by CMA Ships and Associated British Ports.

“It was apparent that complacency and a degree of over confidence on the part of the master and port pilots contributed to this accident,” MAIB said.

Actions have been taken by CMA Ships and Associated British Ports to address some of the issues identifed in this report and to improve navigational safety.

MAIB added that recommendations aimed at reducing the likelihood of future groundings and improving levels of navigation, bridge resource management, and use of electronic navigation aids have been made to CMA Ships and Associated British Ports.

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