A communication breakdown between the pilot and the bridge crew was behind Maersk Garonne’s grounding at the entrance of Fremantle harbour in February this year, a preliminary report by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has found.
“It was apparent that the ship’s bridge crew had not been directly and actively engaged with the pilotage,” the ATSB reported, adding that crew members were broadly unaware of the pilotage plan.
The report also found that procedures had not been enacted and actions had not been taken to ensure full bridge resources available to the pilot and master were utilised.
On 28 February, Danish liner vessel Maersk Garonne was under pilotage on approach to the port. At 04:41 h local time, the pilot ordered port helm to bring the ship around to enter the inner harbour channel. However, during the turning manoeuvre, the ATSB found attempts to delay the ship’s arrival at the entrance beacons had led to the vessel passing south of the channel and grounding. It was re-floated at 08:24 h local time and taken to anchor.
While preliminary report cautions that new evidence may become available as the investigation progresses, it will focus on pilotage procedures in reducing the risk of future groundings. Ongoing investigations will also focus on the implementation and effectiveness of bridge resource and management training.
Meanwhile, a second report by the ATSB released last week found poor lifeboat management was behind the serious injury of a ship’s engineer on board the Aquarosa in the Indian Ocean off Broome, Australia in March 2014.
The bulk carrier was en route to Kwinana when on 1 March, the free-fall lifeboat was inadvertently released with the ship’s engineer on board during a routine inspection.
The lifeboat was recovered only five hours later. The ATSB found the serious accident, which led to the hospitalisation of the engineer, was due to the failure of the crew to reset the lifeboat after its last operation.
Shipboard procedures on board the Malta-flagged bulk carrier have been revised since the accident.