UK MAIB Releases Report on Ultra-Large Containership Grounding Near Southampton

UK MAIB Releases Report on Ultra-Large Containership Grounding Near Southampton

Link to the MAIB report is here.

The ship was set north by the flood tide which tightened up the turn.

The ship was using paper back-up for the ECDIS. On page 31 of the report is the ship’s planned track-line, the turn as planned on paper too tight of the ship to have made in any circumstances but it is typical of how many tracks get laid out.

I read the report and the Maritime Executive article posted this morning. Maritime Executive titled their article “over confidence contributed to mega-ship grounding.” The MAIB put most of the blame on improper use of ECDIS, which has become the standard as of late IMHO.

My take is that the pilots in Southampton are some of the most cautious and well prepared I’ve worked with. The lead pilot miscalculated the effect of the westerly wind on the extreme sail area of such a large container ship as well as the exact time of the tide. Once the rate of turn couldn’t be maintained, he knew it was game over. The turn at the brambles into thorn channel is very sharp and not surprisingly, the thought of the ship simply being too big for the port never came up in the report. Instead it comes back, as it always does, to lack of training and insufficient use of alarms on the ECDIS. I just don’t see where an alarm going off would have stopped this from happening. I think this is getting more and more common as they try to shoehorn these “mega-ships” into ports that want the business but probably shouldn’t be attempting it in the first place.

This sort of building bigger and bigger happened with tankers in the past. Apparently history is repeating itself in container shipping. These groundings are going to continue to happen.

There were several things that came out in the very though report.
I feel that the original decision to allow daylight passage only was correct and this had been bypassed due to commercial expediency.
The very experienced pilots were trained the same way I was, that the best instrument on the bridge was the mark one eyeball. As the shipping changes and more and more of these ships are shoe horned into ports designed for ships of a different era we have to change how we opperate.
Airports have a glide path and traffic is strictly controlled. Weather limits are set and in some cases the runway can only be used in daylight . There are no paragliders or micro lights anywhere near major airports.
In this instance the passing of another vessel put the vessel north of its intended track, and even if the wheel over position had been adjusted for this, the manoeuvre required full helm and manoeuvring full ahead . The windage aft of the pivot point was the wild card. The first time the manoeuvre was attempted on the simulater failed.
My conclusion is they were on a hiding to nothing. The paper chart did not show the tactical diameter to calculate the wheel over position but I have never planned on using more than 15 degrees of helm anyway.
The manoeuvre may have come off with more input from port control but this brings up legal issues.
The ECDIS system does not yet have the sophistication that would allow it to calculate for the external forces encountered. It would calculate what effect the external forces had when the ship was heading South West but not what this would have on the alteration to the next heading.
The tide and wind have a great effect on ships manoeuvring due to the small speed differential.

Agree on using 15 degrees helm for planned turns, I was taught that and it meant you could tighten or lessen as you monitored track.

As they were using full helm and the main engine to drive the stern around it suggests these mega ships being shoe horned into ports they were never designed for is a recipe for disaster.

Look at the storm that hit Durban, the sheer windage meant the ships parted moorings all over the harbour.

Yes to this. Southampton is so tight once you reach the city quayside that you basically drift the last mile up the channel.