M2012-01 M/S BARENTSZDIEP (NLD), collision with the edge mark off Oulu on 10.1.2012
M/S BARENTSZDIEP was laden with timber when she departed Oulu at 4.00 on 10 January 2012. The voyage plan was not gone through prior to the voyage and the Pilot did not present his own plan to the Master. The Master took care of turning the vessel in the dock basin. After the vessel had been turned, the Pilot took over the manoeuvring. To start with, he used manual rudder and later on in the fairway he switched over to automatic steering. During the voyage the pilot boarding area was changed from a northerly location to a more southern location near Holma upon a request made by pilot. The VTS was not aware of this change.
The pilot boat came to the side of the vessel as early as 3 NM before the southern pilot boarding area, but it suffered from problems in staying there because of the west-south-westerly swell. The Pilot was down on the deck; however, he could not transfer to the pilot boat because of the abovementioned reasons. The Master was alone on the bridge and the vessel was on automatic steering, which can only be operated from the middle console of the bridge. At the time of the accident, the Master was mainly on the port bridge wing because of the departure of the Pilot. The Pilot asked the Master to turn the vessel on a more southerly course of 190°–180°. This change of heading did not provide enough lee for the pilot boat so the Pilot requested a turn on course 160°. After the vessel had turned on this course, the Pilot was able to board the pilot boat at approx. 7.30. The vessel continued turning after that and reached the heading of 152.8°.
The Master was fully concentrated on the safe departure of the Pilot, and he did not at that instant notice that the vessel had proceeded close to the Holma edge mark. The Pilot warned the Master about the proximity of the Holma edge mark from onboard the pilot boat as did the deckhands who were on the deck. It is worth noticing that the accident occurred when it was dark but that the edge mark was lit with a white flashlight and that there was no lookout on the bridge. The deck illumination used in connection of the departure of the Pilot reduced possibilities to make observations. The Master saw the edge mark on the port side approx. 20°–30° and 2–3 cables from the bow. The Master steered to starboard by using automatic steering when the speed was according to the S-VDR approx. 4.2 knots. As the vessel was fully laden, she did not turn as was hoped and collided with the edge mark port side first at 7.31.
So many duties had built up on the Master that he was not able to manage them alone. These duties encompassed the control of the vessel’s motion state including speed control, use of autopilot, monitoring of the heading, outlook, monitoring of the radar and communication with the Pilot as well as observing what was happening on the deck. The modification of the voyage plan and manoeuvring in order to have lee for the pilot boat can be considered as contributing factors.
The bridge must always be appropriately manned to ensure the safe navigating of the vessel in all circumstances. Pilot boarding/disembarking must be realised in such a way that the vessel has enough berth to provide lee for the pilot boat and to return back on a safe course.
As a result of the investigation, the Safety Investigation Authority recommends to the Finnish Transport Agency and the Finnish Meteorological Institute that they let install such appliances to the safety equipment that it is possible for seafarers to access real time information on the state of sea on the pilot boarding area and in its immediate proximity. In addition, the Safety Investigation Authority recommends to Finnpilot Pilotage Ltd and the Finnish Transport Agency that they, after the collaboration meetings of all pilotage areas in the entire country have been held, compile a common operating instruction for the VTS centres and pilots.