M2014-01 M/V SYLT (AG), ground touching off Rauma on 11 October 2014


The container vessel M/V SYLT suffered a ground touching on 11 October 2014 at 02:14. She touched ground when drifting into the excavated rocky edge of the channel after a prolonged turn at Santakari in the Rauma Rihtniemi channel.

The vessel departed from Rauma, Finland, assisted by a pilot and bound for Hamburg, Germany. In the Rihtniemennokka bend the pilot turned the vessel using the autopilot, but the turn fell short. The vessel drifted to the south side of the fairway centre line, after which the pilot switched to manual steering and started to turn the vessel to starboard. The pilot tried to stop the turn by giving counter-rudder hard-a-port. As the turn did not stop, the master took over the manual steering on the pilot’s request and increased main engine power in order to improve the effect of the rudder. The vessel started to turn to port, but drifted with her starboard side first into the edge of the cliffs north of the channel.

After the vessel had returned to the Port of Rauma, a group of divers checked the damages. During the dive it was discovered that the flap of the Becker-type rudder was missing. The flap improves manoeuvrability. The metallic surfaces of the tears caused by the flap falling off were shiny. According to the divers’ assessment, the damages were not older than a couple of days at the most. The missing flap was searched for in the bottom of the fairway area but with no result. Because there were no damages caused by the ground touching on the vessel’s rudder, it had in all likelihood been damaged before the ground touching.

The damage in the rudder had affected the manoeuvring of the vessel. Modern adaptive automatic steering systems adjust to different conditions and may maintain their performance in varying situations. As a result of this, the effect of rudder damage may remain hidden. The vessel’s manoeuvring characteristics did, regardless of the last mentioned, not correspond with the information the pilot had received before departure. This has contributed to the vessel drifting to the edge of the channel and further to touching ground.

Investigation Report M2014-01 (pdf, 1.76 Mt)

Published 18.8.2015