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SAFETY & SECURITY  Case study:

           Lone Watchkeeping Grounding at Night

                                                        While on passage at night, a 2,281 gt general cargo ship ran aground
                                                        on the Pentland Skerries in the eastern entrance of the Pentland Firth,
                                                        Scotland  (Figure  1).  The  ship  sustained  significant  hull  damage,  but
                                                        there was no pollution or injuries.

                                                        What happened

                                                        On the afternoon before the grounding, while on passage, a bridge team
                                                        meeting was held to discuss the forthcoming transit of the Pentland Firth, a
                                                        stretch of water to the north of the Scottish mainland notorious for extreme
                                                        tidal and sea conditions. The master decided to adjust the bridge watch-
                                                        keeping schedule in order to make the transit in favourable tidal conditions.
                                                        The cadet was directed to keep watch from 23:00 to 02:00 (all times UTC + 2),
                                                        and the maritime officer would then commence his watch with the transit of
                                                        the Pentland Firth due to begin at about 05:00
                                                        Between about 17:30 and 19:00 the maritime officer had dinner and con-
                                                        sumed two beers in the mess room. He went to his cabin at about 19:00 and
                                                        slept from approximately 21:30 until 01:45.
           Figure 1:                                    The maritime officer relieved the cadet as officer of the watch (OOW) at
                                                 02:00, with the ship making 7.8kts on a heading of 280° in calm seas. The ship had
           Ship hard aground following           been on track mode steering, which enables it to follow its planned track automat-
           the incident                          ically. However, the maritime officer deselected this, switched to the standalone
                                                 autopilot, and set the heading to 279°. Alone on the bridge, he then sat down in the
           Source: MAIB
                                                 bridge chair (Figure 2) and started watching music videos on his mobile phone. The
                                                 Bridge Watch Navigation Alarm System (BWNAS) was not in use.

                                                 Figure 2:
                                                 Ship’s bridge
                                                 showing the radar
                                                 displays, ECDIS, VHF
                                                 radio, autopilots,
                                                 and bridge chair
                                                 Source: MAIB

                                                 At about 04:00, the OOW looked at the radar and realised that the ship was south of
                                                 the planned track (Figure 3). At the same time, he observed two small islands ahead
                                                 on the radar. He decided to proceed between the islands, after which he intended to
                                                 alter course to starboard to regain the planned track.
           by Jacob Damgaard
           Britannia P&I Club

          10  MINERVA IN FOCUS – ISSUE 18 / Q4 2021
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