C6/2006M Passenger Vessel MS NORDLANDIA, Collision with Quay in Tallinn on 28.10.2006

The Finnish car-passenger ferry M/S NORDLANDIA had departed from Helsinki to Tallinn on 28.10.2008 at 08.00. The weather was fine at the time of the departure. The meteorological institutes in both Estonia and Finland had forecasted storm in the Gulf of Finland with westerly-north-westerly winds 20-25 m/s. The wind increased during the voyage. The option of waiting for the weather to improve was never discussed.

When the NORDLANDIA was approaching Tallinn, the master, the officer of the watch and the helmsman were on the bridge. The vessel’s wind-meter showed that the wind was from northwest and that the wind speed was over 20 m/s. The chief officer also arrived on the bridge, and the master told him that he had ordered tug assistance.

The master was steering the vessel to the basin at a greater speed than usual from the port wing steering place. He tried to get the tug to assist. In the berthing the bow of the vessel hit the quay constructions.

The port side of the NORDLANDIA’s bow was damaged when it hit the quay fender. As to the port constructions, the fender and the covered passenger gangway were damaged. The collision with the quay did not cause personal injuries and the damages did not endanger the safety of the vessel while it was in port.

The NORDLANDIA was approaching the port and hit the quay construction in wind conditions which exceeded the performance of the vessel. No information about the vessel's operational limitations had been produced to the master.

The speed at which NORDLANDIA entered the port, the track and the lack of advance discussion suggest a traditional and established procedure in good weather conditions. The fact that the circumstantial factors were taken into consideration can be seen mainly in the high speed of the vessel, which was used in order to try to control the effects of the wind.

The shipping company has no standard procedures for mooring. Each master has to develop his/her own routines. This means that the advance discussion on the distribution of work and on communication, which is essential for bridge co-operation, becomes more difficult or non-existent. In the same way there should be a common, pre-agreed plan of action for the co-operation with tugs. According to the prevailing practice, the routines can vary within one shipping company and as the masters change, even on one vessel.

The responsibility for port manoeuvring has been allocated to the master alone, but he/she has been left without support in the decision-making. The environmental limitations for port manoeuvring have not been set, and there are no minimum requirements as to the steering devices.

The SOLAS Convention rule on the operational limitations for a passenger vessel has not been applied to the wind limits of port manoeuvring. The Finnish Maritime Administration has not required this from the shipping companies. The operational limitations can be used as the basis for defining the port-specific wind limits for vessels. In their training, ship officers can be provided with port manoeuvring skills only within a vessel's operational limitations. The general character of the training requirements set in the STCW Convention are the reason for the fact that the present ship officer training does not include adequate requirements to control port manoeuvring. The operational limitations can give the STCW objectives on ship officers' skill levels in port manoeuvring a realizable and realistic framework.

The Investigation Commission has issued two safety recommendations to the Finnish Maritime Administration and one to the shipping companies. All recommendations are connected with the SOLAS Convention requirement on the vessels’ operational limitations and defining them for the purpose of port manoeuvring.

C6/2006M Report (pdf, 4.1 Mt)

Published 28.10.2006