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26 Nov 2014

Category   Navigation
Vessel type Passenger vessel
Issue date 20/11/2014
Case number 48952

The incident

This case involved a passenger/vehicle ferry powered by two engines, one forward and one aft, both controlled from the bridge and usually operated under synchronisation.

Two days before the incident in question, a securing stud on one of the engine’s charge air cooler came away. A temporary repair was affected allowing the vessel to continue operating subject to the proviso that the engine concerned was not operated at more than 90% power. This was deemed acceptable in terms of ship operations and, more particularly, of no threat to personnel or the vessel.

On the day of the incident the vessel sailed from port at approximately 1430hrs with 140 passengers, 14 crew, and with a mix of cars, freight and trailers on board.

The vessel was running a little behind schedule so the Master desynchronised the engines, cancelling the audible alarm, in order to run the second engine at 100% power. The red warning lights on the engine control panel came on and remained visible throughout the voyage.

Prior to arrival at port, the Mate took control of the vessel. The Mate was not informed that the engines had been desynchronised by the Master. On approaching the berth he reduced the propeller pitch, not appreciating this would only be effective on one engine. On realising the engines were out of synchronisation, he attempted to pull back the other engine but it was too late and at a speed of just under 9 knots, the vessel struck the berth heavily causing substantial damage to the linkspan and the vessel.


The subsequent investigation by solicitors appointed to represent our Member confirmed that the cause of the incident was the Master’s failure to notify the Mate that the engines had been desynchronised and that the Mate did not check the relevant console on the bridge display.

The company procedures clearly indicated that the responsibility for the operation of the engine controls was the responsibility of the bridge team. It also stated that in relation to operations when the engines are out of synchronisation, extreme caution must be exercised.

This case highlights the need for good bridge team communication and co-operation.

The financial cost

The cost of the incident was financed at US$372,193