Own ship had come down during the course of the day and had anchored in the Northern anchorage earlier that evening at 22:00 hrs to await the pilot the following morning. The weather that day had been misty, but had gradually lifted during the day. At the anchorage, the wind was quite strong and there was the usual strong current. 7 shackles of cable were used and after anchoring, the ship lay facing the S, pretty much into the wind. Our main engine was on 10 minutes notice of readiness.
At 23:45 hrs, the 3rd Officer called me, summoning me to the Bridge immediately. As I was getting up, the whistle started sounding, which prompted me to get a move on.
On opening the Bridge door, I saw a white steaming light on the stbd bow, a white steaming light and a green sidelight on the port bow and all the lights of the accommodation block on a ship passing very close ahead of us. I estimated the distance to be approximately 50 metres.
The 3rd Officer told me he had monitored the ship coming into the anchorage and had watched him alter to port. It was shortly after this that he realised the other ship was being set onto us and called me.
By AIS, the ship was identified. I believe this to be a gas carrier. She subsequently anchored further west of us.
What has happened to the art of seamanship? This ship took no notice of the effects of wind and current and got set down dangerously close to us. Any collision could have had catastrophic consequences.
This report was forwarded to the gas carrier’s manager, who replied as follows:
“Our investigation has confirmed the vessel was in the area at the time.
We have no record of the incident or near-miss in our group wide incident/accident reporting database. The Master has since left the company and has declined to comment on the matter. We have decided there is not a lot of point in trying to contact the other watch-keepers on board as it is unlikely that they would be able to offer any form of explanation.
The vessel has a high freeboard in both ballast and load conditions and also deck compressor rooms which give her an unusually high windage area. The vessel had just been taken into management and we assume the Master in this case had underestimated this and found himself in this embarrassing situation.
What we have done is sent out a letter reminding ship’s staff on the importance of near-miss reporting and our latest edition of our safety newsletter also had an extensive article on near-miss reporting. Also (not as a direct result of just this incident), as one of our ways of improving the actions of the bridge team, we have reduced the interval between bridge team training courses.”
The Maritime Advisory Board is grateful that the vessel operator has made an assessment of the incident and responded positively to it; despite some time having elapsed between incident and the report to CHIRP. The areas they have chosen to focus on relate to the importance of incident reporting and bridge team management. The Board believes the following points may also be of assistance:
• The incident indicates a possible concern regarding the effectiveness of the procedure adopted for familiarisation where a new ship is taken under management.
• Despite the Master having left the company, the investigation might usefully have been completed for the benefit of other employees.
Lessons related to selecting and proceeding to a safe anchorage considering factors such as leeway, set, drift and windage are likely to be of general application.