Container giant 'Mumbai Maersk' aground at German Wadden Island

The ‘Mumbai Maersk’, a giant container ship from Maersk with over 20,000 TEU capacity grounded on Wednesday evening near Wangerooge, the most easterly German Wadden island.

The ship was on its way from Rotterdam to Bremerhaven when something went wrong with the vessel due to a yet unknown cause.

Five tugboats have arrived at the place of disaster, but a first attempt to pull the container ship free, failed early on Thursday morning. The salvagers are waiting to make a new attempt at Thursday afternoon and then hope to be able to benefit from the high water tide. This will be around 1 p.m.

The ‘Mumbai Maersk’ came into service in 2018 and immediately broke the world record of largest amount of loaded teu. That record has since been broken by other ships, but that does not mean that the Maersk ship belongs to the maritime mastodonts.


Suffice to say, there is something very, very wrong about this picture. Judging by the icon spacing, speed was increasing straight over a spoil ground with shoaling depths directly ahead.

A pilot should have already been boarded by this point. Very odd maneuver in this area, around 1.5 miles from the pilot station.

From that AIS picture, it looks like an attempt was made at a racetrack turn on a strong ebb tide. Not too hard to let the bow get topped around on the initial turn but the second one is a different story.

The only plausible reason that comes immediately to mind is a deliberate grounding. Going aground in a spoils area seems like a relatively safe place to to it.

As far as the increase in speed; might that be the result of running straight again after having the speed knocked down in the turns?

Could the first turn be caused by engine or steering problem and the second when the problem was solved, trying to get back in the lane?

A near 400 m. long ship doesn’t “turn on a dime” as you all know. Strong current in the “wrong” direction doesn’t help.
With a high deck cargo windage is another factor that may have caused the wide turn.

PS> I’m pretty sure nobody deliberatly grounded this vessel. What reason should there be for such action? Maersk is not exactly a “fly by night” company that need to cash in insurance money. and the Mumbai Maersk is not flying some black or gray listed flag. (DIS registered)

I agree that grounding in this case for insurance is absurd. In general, vessels are sometimes deliberately grounded to avoid or mitigate some other hazard that is judged to be a greater threat to the vessel.

IDK what happened aboard this vessel. The idea that it was deliberately run aground comes from the fact that the AIS track could plausibly support that scenario.

  1. approaching this particular pilot station vsl is in VHF touch with VTS . Close to pilot stn (abt 1.5-2Nm) VTS instructs the vsl to directly contact P.S. on another VHF channel for confirmation of pilot boarding time and pilot boarding arrangements including safe boarding speed/heading.

Regret to say , that at least on two occasions in the past , info from pilot stn forced us to dug our heels in the mud to stop her, what resulted in Cheng furious calls from ECR and once , “U” turn was the only option, although rather dangerous, due to outbound and following traffic and different then ideal visibility conditions. Smaller vessel though (300/42/13.5) mtrs can pump some adrenaline into your system too and we used paper charts, although ecdis was fitted.

  1. My speculation: due to reasons mentioned in item 1) bridge team(master + 3rd mate+ quartermaster) have lost completely situational awareness , what was compounded probably by wrong ecdis settings.

Have always claimed , that paper charts offer " what you see is what you get" package, while ecdis gives " what you see, is what you know how to get it" .

Hence the team could not see the danger, they were heading to (Wakashio) , despite built in features in ecdis allowing to " interrogate" objects by clicking on them . Close to LW one must be crazy to leave safe water channel with their draft, especially when two boys( not exactly cardinnal) clearly indicate, where the safe water is.

Interrogation of the two boys with the mouse click could reveal what they mean and why. Regret to observe , that “nintendo” generation rarely shows interest in visual aids to navigation and eyeballing seems a long forgotten art , what probably prevented them from seeing these two boys on their port bow prior grounding.

  1. Third option, although also highly speculative is that , their voyage plan was thicker then Pilot Book, Tide tables and List of lights combined for given area, containing too much details on environmental issues, so the contingency plan for “point of no return” got lost in the creative verbiage so enjoyed by PSC German officers during inspections in BRH and/or HAM. :wink:

  2. 4th option : deliberate action but i am not sure if madness or state of complete oblivion can be deliberate.