Collision between the container vessel ‘Astrosprinter’ and the traditional sailing ship ‘Nr. 5 ELBE’ - Interim Report

The German Bureau of Maritime Casualty Investigations published a mandatory Interim Report (after one year of investigation) about the collision between the container vessel ‘Astrosprinter’ and the traditional sailing ship ‘Nr. 5 ELBE’

Interim Investigation Report

No real news; the draft final report is ready and in consultation.
It will be published in July/August 2020…


Original thread here:

This report is either a feeble minded attempt at whitewash or may be a bad translation from German to English but doesn’t add up when compared to the video shot from the ELBE prior to the collision. There is no evidence that the crew was ‘engaged in regaining control over these sails’.
They appear to be on a steady course on a starboard tack with no headsail and a reefed mainsail. Instead of ordering the crew to move the tiller to starboard and fall off, one of the crew (presumedly the captain?) chooses to stay on course and repeatedly sounds the danger signal, apparently acting in the belief that the ship would get out of the way.
The ELBE didn’t collide with the ship. It’s the other way around. The ship collided with the ELBE when the tiller was pushed opposite the way it should have been to avoid the collision and there was no other outcome possible at that point but to get T-boned.

Might have been before the video started.

That may be the case but it is not a factor in the collision.

I wonder what the use is of bringing out such a sketchy, non informative so called ‘interim’ report and that one year after the facts.


What struck me watching the video that many on deck appreciated that a risk of collision existed by their body language and at the time there was ample time to bear away and pass starboard to starboard.
The ship and the pilot would expect this action by the Elbe and a subsequent investigation will probably censure them for not sounding 5 short blasts earlier. I fully agree with Dutchie about the relevance of this interim report.

Blaming the lack of conclusion on Covid-19 leaves a bad smell.

Watching the video with no other information if looks like the Elbe is just out sailing and decided to cross in front of the Astrosprinter. But the interim report adds a little context.

From the report:


Looks like what is being said here is the Nr. 5 Elbe turned around to go back to Hamburg which evidently required being on the other side of the river. Because of messing with the sails they were late getting across to the other side making the crossing much closer than expected.

In hindsight they should have passed stbd to stbd but they likely underestimated the speed of the downbound ship and also may have expected the Astrosprinter to alter to stbd for a port to port.

I just noticed that a third vessel was involved, the Hanna, sounds like the Elbe just passed one ship close just before encountering the Astrosprinter.

It seems, there was a fixed idea on board ‘cross immediately to the upward fairway’.
They missed the preceding vessel ‘Hanna’ closely and, stubborn, they went to suicide against ‘Astrosprinter’…

About the relevance of this interim report:
The Final Report must be published within a year; otherwise, an Interim Report is mandatory.
As often these days, Corona is the excuse for any delay.

1 Like

I’d say not fixed. The crew of the sail boat is playing a probability game. The longer the sailboat stands-on the higher the risk of changing course for a stbd to stbd because the chances that the container ship alters for a port to port are increasing.

Problem is we know the outcome but the crew didn’t. Hindsight bias, we can’t unsee the outcome.

1 Like

But they were in extremis before the clip started – it’s only ~45 seconds long, and the distance to the ship is exaggerated by the phone camera’s wide angle lens.

Look how long it took to even throw the tiller over once they started – they didn’t have a prayer going to stbd and not much of one going to port.

1 Like

I’ve always thought that if they “fell off” to port they could have filled the sails as well as pointed the bow away from the container ship and probably would have avoided the collision or at least minimized it to a glancing blow. But hindsight is 20/20.

Schooner rig with main or mizzen aluff and headsail full, so there shouldn’t have been a problem getting her to head off, at least initially.

But if it was “uh-oh” man who gave the helm order he didn’t have time to think about it – I reckon it was “spinal reflex” at that point.

I don’t know when they were in extremis but the point is still the same. Either way the correct choice aboard the No 5 Elbe depends upon what action the other ship takes. The fact that the danger signal was given is evidence of this. The sailboat crew wanted the container ship to take some action. Why?

While the risk of standing on was rapidly increasing the risk of turning was increasing as well.

In any case the true risk of the choice is not what matters. What matters is the perception of the risk.

While searching for information on the ELBE 5’s master, I came across this bit of information which I had not seen before. If accurate, it indicates that the ASTROSPRINTER’s position on the starboard edge of the channel prevented him from turning to starboard in order to meet port to port. It also confirms that the schooner was not responding to calls on the VHF, and that they had been reported to be proceeding on the wrong side of the channel. It also confirms @DamnYankee’s earlier post on the original thread that they had been reported for impeding traffic.

…the container ship was following the dredged river channel, as close to the starboard side of the channel as was safe given her draft. Some minutes before the incident, another vessel had attempted to contact No. 5 Elbe because the schooner was in the wrong part of the channel, but the schooner did not respond. Elbe vessel traffic system was informed via radio that the schooner was impeding safe navigation, and Astrosprinter attempted to hail the schooner. All efforts were unsuccessful.

1 Like

I think that can be seen in the beginning of the video as well, not 100% clear, looks like the AstroS passed a red buoy very close on her stbd side.

Ships on passage to Hamburg on the Elbe pass Port to Port always unless there are circumstances that make a departure from this procedure. If this happens everyone is in the loop including traffic control. Ships are normally at Harbour Full which in my case was 16 knots. It seems an odd place given the change of usage in the river to start manoeuvring a large and unhandy vessel under sail.

I agree, seems like a bad place for a sail. However from a legal point of view I don’t know how much weight that would have as to assigning blame. Not much I expect.

You guys beat me to it. Was wondering how that fits with draft constricted in a narrow channel regarding sail and motor vessels crossing/meeting. Pardon my wording