Improperly Installed Steering Equipment Caused 2011 Grounding of Brand New Bulker

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July 30, 2012

The 2010-built M/V Dumun

Australia’s Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) announced Monday that an improperly installed piece of steering gear caused the April 2011 grounding of a practically brand new bulk carrier off the coast of Australia, prompting a warning to all owners of ships built by China’s Tsuneishi Group to get their systems checked.

On the evening of April 2011, the Panama registered M/V Dumun, a 58,100 DWT bulker grounded after an apparent steering gear failure while departing the port of Gladstone, Queensland. No injuries or pollution resulted and the Dumun was quickly pulled to safety, but the incident raised some questions about what caused the recently commissioned vessel to run aground in the first place.

An ATSB final report on the incident is now pointing towards the Dumun’s shipbuilder, China’s Tsuneishi Zhoushan shipyard, for impoperly installing a critical piece of steering equipment that provided the bridge team with incorrect readings.  The ATSB’s report has revealed that prior to the grounding, the linkage between the ship’s tiller and rudder angle transmitter had fallen apart and as a result, the steering gear continued to operate normally while the bridge-mounted rudder angle indicator provided improper readings.  By the time the crew realized the inconsistencies, it was too late and the vessel was already aground.

The ATSB has recommended that all vessels built by Tsuneishi’s Zhoushan shipyard be inspected for a similar fault.  In its final report, ATSB says that the Tsuneishi Group’s Zhoushan shipyard has already sent a bulletin to its ship-owning clients, and the company has also supposedly modified its procedures to ensure better checks of future newbuilds.

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