The duty officer had been giving the trainee helmsman steering practice. On approaching the pilotage area he made the initial report to port control giving ships details at the same time as telling the trainee helmsman to change back to auto-pilot. He did not observe the changeover and the trainee switched to bridge wing control on the 3 position switch.
The duty officer was making a logbook entry by then. It was observed that the ship was swinging off towards a drying bank ¾’ distant at full ahead (16 knots). When the officer was made aware of what was happening, he just said “No steering” and took no further action.
The “con” was taken from the duty officer and both engines put full astern, before investigating the steering using a torch.
The duty officer expressed the view that the ship could not go astern as the vessel was on shaft generator. However, this is not so and indeed the vessel did not black out.
The duty officer was asked to inform the master and call an anchor party and the engine room to start a generator, none of which he did.
It was found that the steering selector switch was on “bridge wing”; the steering was put back to hand and the cadet on the wheel.
The vessel was by now less than 1 cable from the bank and just about stopped. She managed to steer away, helm hard over and resume towards the buoyed channel.
Once things had calmed down we discussed the incident.
The duty officer did not want the Master to find out, he thought he would be sacked and blacklisted by the crewing agency and not be able to find work again….
The duty officer was also made aware that this incident and the failure to follow correct procedures was hardly teaching the trainee the correct way to behave when he ultimately qualifies.
The Reporter believed this incident should be reported to the operational management and, after the Maritime Advisory Board reviewed the incident, agreed to the depersonalised account being shared with the MAIB.
The MAIB will, of course, accept such reports on a confidential basis itself.
The report has been forwarded to the operational management for their assessment, highlighting the procedural, bridge resource management and familiarisation issues.