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C16/1997M mt CRYSTAL AMETHYST, Grounding off Mussalo Harbour in Kotka on 1.12.1997

Chemical tanker CRYSTAL AMETHYST, operated by HOL Maritime I A.S. of Luxembourg was shifted from Hamina oil harbour to Kotka Mussalo on the 1st of December 1997. A cargo of 785 tons of Nonyl Phenol Ethoxylate had been loaded in Hamina. A pilot was on board. The speed of the wind varied in between 12-25 m/s during the voyage.

The pilot had boarded the vessel at 16:00 about 10 minutes before the departure. Wind speed at the moment was about 17 m/s. The pilot recommended the assistance of the tugboat. Master wanted the tugboat to be only in standby. However he accepted pilot’s proposal and the tug was made fast as the wind speed was 17 m/s. Master informed the pilot that no tug assistance was needed for berthing at Kotka Mussalo harbour.

While approaching the Mussalo harbour the pilot and Master discussed and agreed upon where to turn the vessel in order to make a stern ahead approach to the quay. The turn was completed outside the south buoy in front of the harbour. The pilot and the master didn’t discuss the ordering of tug. The wind was about 15 m/s.

Master and the pilot stayed on the bridge. Master took care of the engine settings, rudder and the bow thruster.

Rather soon it became apparent that berthing the vessel in light load condition will not succeed. The wind speed had increased. The wind turned the ship to a southerly heading with only a small distance to the opposite quay. Master managed the vessel out from the basin with difficulty. On the way out from the basin CRYSTAL AMETHYST touched a vessel made fast to the quay and also touched the end of the quay, according to the pilot, while manoeuvring out from harbour.

Master concentrated on steering and adjusting the propeller pitch. The pilot gave steering com-mands using rudder angles. Pilot’s reference of position was a green buoy, which he assumed to be the northerly one of two buoys. The chief mate came on the bridge at 18:09 and took the helm. At 18:10 CRYSTAL AMETHYST ran aground at Matinmatala. The pilot’s reference of position had been the buoy in north westerly direction instead of the assumed one in northerly direction.

There were no spill of cargo or fuel oil to water. The cargo of Nonyl Phenol Ethoxylate is toxic and the possibilities for countermeasures are not good if there is a spill to water.

C16/1997M Report (pdf, 1.31 Mt)

Published 13.5.1997