C1/2006M MS ESTRADEN and MT WOLGASTERN, collision in the Kiel-Canal on 2.2.2006
The WOLGASTERN left the Holtenau lock of the Kiel-Canal at 23.32 on 1st February 2006. Due to the 9-meter draught of the vessel, her highest allowed speed was 12 km/h (6.5 knots). The vessel approached the siding area of Audorf-Rade slowing down to let three ships (TURCHESE, ANTJE and ESTRADEN) behind it pass her. The ESTRADEN left the Holtenau lock of the Kiel-Canal at 00.35 on 2nd February with a draught of 5.9 m. Three vessels were sailing one behind the other with the ESTRADEN as the last one. Their speed limit was 15 km/h (8.1 knots).
According to the joint plan worked out in the bridge of the WOLGASTERN, the purpose was, at the straight of Audorf-Rade also to encounter the two smaller vessels, the LENA and the RIROIL 5. The ESTRADEN started to pass the WOLGASTERN from her portside while meeting the LENA. The WOLGASTERN started to turn starboard, but the correction succeeded with manoeuvring measures. At that time, the speed of the ESTRADEN was about 8.9 knots and that of the WOLGASTERN about 4.6 knots.
When the ESTRADEN was about half her length ahead of the WOLGASTERN, they encountered the RIROIL 5. At that point, the speeds of the two vessels were about the same: the ESTRADEN 6.0 knots, the WOLGASTERN 6.5 knots and the RIROIL 5 6.5 knots. After the meeting, the manoeuvrability of the ESTRADEN weakened, and she started turning to port. The ESTRADEN increased the speed of the vessel. At the same time it was notified from the bridge of the WOLGASTERN that the WOLGASTERN was turning portside and it was suggested that the ESTRADEN further increases her speed. The WOLGASTERN also increased her speed to improve her manoeuvrability as it was noticed that the vessel was restless. At that moment preceding the accident there were three vessels side by side in a part of the canal with a width of 100–110 m (for that width depth of water was at least 10.5 m).
The bow of the WOLGASTERN hit the ESTRADEN midships at about 02.36, whereupon the stern of the WOLGASTERN turned portside and collided with the aft part of the ESTRADEN. At the time of the collision the speeds of the vessels were about 8 knots. Due to the strength of the impact, the ESTRADEN started to turn to starboard and her aft part approached the portside bank. The Master of the ESTRADEN immediately took charge of the steering. Portside engine was reversed while the starboard engine was in ahead-position to prevent the aft from drifting portside towards the bank of the canal. This measure dropped the speed of the ESTRADEN so that the WOLGASTERN started to slide along the starboard side of the ESTRADEN. The portside wing of the bridge of the WOLGASTERN hit the starboard deckhouse, mess and Master’s cabin of the ESTRADEN. There were no people in these premises so personal damage was avoided. The WOLGASTERN slid past the ESTRADEN and drifted to the portside bank of the canal bow first.
The investigation commission considers the reason of the accident the lengthy stay of the colliding vessels too close to each other at too high a speed due to meeting two encountering vessels one after the other. During the overtaking, the WOLGASTERN had to sail close to the right-hand side of the canal, which made its manoeuvrability more difficult. When the manoeuvring of the vessels became more difficult, their speeds were increased, which increased further the interaction forces due to the closeness of the vessels.
The investigation commission addresses safety recommendations to the Wasser- Und Shifffahrtsdirection Nord to specify rules concerning overtaking situations in the canal. Safety recommendations are also addressed to the owners operating in the canals and to other bodies in connection with the canal navigation to estimate additional education needs of their personnel concerning the effects of restricted waters. In addition the committee recommends that maritime training institutes should complete their training concerning the effect of confined waters in ship navigation.