Those on deep-sea vessels frequently overlook the lessons learned from brown-water and fishing vessels. This is unfortunate as it is much nicer to learn from others’ mistakes – especially ones involving serious injury, fatalities or legal implications. One such incident was just published by the UK Maritime Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB).
Occurring almost a year ago, but recently published in January 2014, the MAIB’s report on the fishing vessel Achieve’s sinking offers at least one lesson learned. The small fishing vessel sank due to flooding in the fish hold which went undetected due to a disconnected high bilge sensor. Once the situation became apparent, the crew of the ill fated vessel had mere minutes to activate their distress call, launch the liferaft and abandon ship. As this incident occurred in the dead of winter in cold waters and survival suits were not used, the fact that there was only one fatality out of three crewmembers is significant.
The primary lesson learned is highlighted in MAIB’s report when they reveal that, “The MAIB is aware of three accidents (fishing vessels) where not using the DSC to raise a distress alarm has resulted in fatalities.” Decades after DSC (Digital Selective Calling) came into use, confusion on its use is far too common. The use of the DSC distress button on Achieve’s VHF would have sent the Coast Guard their MMSI (Maritime Mobile Service Identity), position and distress condition. Confusion over the vessel in distress and position thereof lead to a suspected 45 minute delay in response. A secondary lesson learned would have allowed additional time for the crew to respond – namely keeping sensors such as high bilge sensors connected. Testing of such critical sensors on a routine basis should not be overlooked. Last, but certainly not least, the skipper and crew of the Achieve must be commended for keeping their liferaft ready for immediate use. Without this critical piece of equipment available, the loss of life may have been much higher.
Would you be able to successfully send a distress call – whether it be by VHF, Sat C or MF/HF – if you had seconds to do so? If the answer is “No” perhaps your next watch or hitch would be a good time to nail down those procedures. Proper and effective use of communications gear can save lives!
A year ago, we talked about the continuing threat of collisions between vessels. That article can be viewed at Collisions Happen….
Today, off the coast of Singapore, the container vessel Hammonia Thracium and the chemical tanker Zoey proved that collisions are still happening. Reviewing the vessels’ AIS tracks on Marinetraffic.com, there doesn’t appear to be any definitive information on the cause, although others report, “Prior to the incident, MPA’s Port Operations Control Centre provided traffic information to the two vessels and alerted Zoey that the vessel Hammonia Thracium was crossing the traffic lane.”
Oil spill response contractors are said to be on scene or enroute to deal with the close to 80 metric tons of bunkers that have been released from Hammonia Thracium. The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) will investigate the cause of this collision, while the vessels assess their damages and options.
We look forward to learning from this incident investigation and lessons learned.
Every month, the vessel’s cargo gear is visually inspected and determined to be in serviceable condition or in need of some repair. Such inspections should be taking place before and during cargo operations, as well. But, what is the crew supposed to be looking at? What are the indicators of future failure? The following guide from the UK P&I Club and Lloyd’s Register can assist you :
Don’t let the lack of proper inspections stop your cargo operations, injure personnel or cause catastrophic failure!