Wrong ECDIS setting led to grounding

Wrong ECDIS setting led to grounding

Sep 19 2014

The UK’s Marine Accident Investigation Bureau (MAIB) report on the grounding of the 2011-built, 10,307 dwt chemical tanker ‘Ovit’ on the Varne Bank in September, 2013 found that the ECDIS was set to pass directly over the sand bank.

MAIB said that the officer of the watch (OOW) was following a route shown on the ECDIS display and that the passage was planned by an inexperienced and unsupervised junior officer.

The plan was not checked by the Master before the vessel left Rotterdam, or by the OOW at the start of his watch. The ship’s position was monitored solely against the intended track shown on the ECDIS, while navigational marks on the Varne Bank were seen but not acted upon.

The scale of the chart shown on the ECDIS was also inappropriate. The operator- defined settings applied to the system were unsuitable and the system’s audible alarm did not work. The OOW’s situational awareness was so poor that it took him 19 minutes to realise that the ‘Ovit’ had grounded.

Although training in the use of the ECDIS fitted to the vessel had been provided, the Master and deck officers were unable to use the system effectively. A Channel Navigation Information Service (CNIS) procedure, which should have alerted ‘Ovit’s’ OOW as the tanker approached the Varne Bank, was not followed because the procedure had not been formalised and an unqualified and unsupervised CNIS operator was distracted.

The vessel, which was carrying a cargo of vegetable oil, remained aground for just under three hours; there were no injuries and damage to the vessel was superficial. There was no pollution. ‘Ovit’ refloated on the rising tide and subsequently berthed in Dover.

Recommendations were made to the UK’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), Transport Malta (flag state), The International Chamber of Shipping, OCIMF and Ayder Tankers (the vessel’s Istanbul-based manager) aimed at improving the standard of navigational inspections of vessels using ECDIS as the primary means of navigation.

A further recommendation to the MCA was intended to ensure that the CNIS is manned appropriately. A recommendation was also made to Marine Information Systems intended to improve the functionality of its ECDIS 900.

As a result, Ayder Tankers has:

  • Issued a company safety bulletin highlighting the issues raised by the grounding with the aim of increasing crew knowledge and safety culture.
  • Included training on defect reporting system in in-house training.
  • Directed all vessels to conduct a Master-led risk assessment for navigation in the Dover Strait.
  • Agreed a contract with a third party company for provision of navigational audits of ships.
  • Moved to computer-based training for the familiarisation of deck officers in type-specific ECDIS.
  • Taken action to ensure that ECDIS training imparted ashore is effectively implemented on board its vessels.

Further, the MCA /dover Coastguard has, inter alia:

  • Included the Varne Bank alerting procedure in its written instructions and embedded the use of the procedure in its operator training and assessment. The procedure has also been updated to limit the authorisation of the Varne Bank alarm to senior watch managers and watch managers only.
  • Issued instructions that, where a CNIS operator has not completed a V103/1 VTS Operator course, the trainee operator is to be accompanied by a fully qualified operator sitting alongside at all times.
  • Taken action to ensure that watch rotations over meal breaks are properly managed.
  • Included the composition of the Dover Coastguard watches as a standing agenda item at monthly management meetings.
  • Made arrangements for adjacent coastguard stations to take over Dover’s SAR responsibilities in extremis to enable Dover Coastguard to focus on its VTS responsibilities (CNIS and Sunk).
  • Invited watch officers at other coastguard stations to move to Dover Coastguard.
  • Taken steps to ensure that incursions by vessels into the guard zone around the Varne Bank, which require CNIS operator intervention, are recorded and submitted to the UK Safety of Navigation Committee.

Marine Information Systems has also introduced a software upgrade to the Maris ECDIS 900 system to ensure that logbook data recording is always active, MAIB said.

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