arrow aground

M/V Arrow just before re-floating. Photo: Aberdeen Harbour Board via MAIB

MAIB Blames Bridge Team in Grounding of Ro-Ro Freight Ferry in Aberdeen Harbour

Mike Schuler
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July 2, 2021

The UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has issued its report into last summer’s grounding of the ro-ro freight ferry Arrow, resulting in significant damage to the vessel’s hull.

The M/V Arrow, registered in the Isle of Man, grounded in thick fog while entering Aberdeen Harbour on the morning of 25 June 2020. During its port approach, a pilot exemption certificate (PEC) holder provided by the vessel’s charterer was navigating by radar and steering the vessel.

The grounding caused significant underwater damage to port side of hull, including holing ballast tanks, deformation of hull plating, bilge keel, propeller, and rudder damage.

The MAIB investigation revealed the vessel encountered the thick fog a few minutes before it entered Aberdeen’s 70-meter-wide Navigation Channel, and with limited support from the bridge team, the PEC holder became overloaded. Consequently, while attempting to correct a deviation to the north of the planned track, he over corrected to the south. The over-correction was not noticed by the bridge team in time to avoid the grounding, the MAIB.

After grounding, the vessel began to list significantly in the falling tide. After confirming no water ingress into the hull, with the assistance of a tug, the master used Arrow’s engines and bow thruster to refloat the vessel. There were no injuries or pollution.

The key safety issues identified by the MAIB included:

  • Arrow’s bridge team was not fully prepared for pilotage in restricted visibility. There was no effective shared mental model of the pilotage plan and the vessel’s progress along it.
  • The level of support provided to the PEC holder by the bridge team was poor.
  • Navigation techniques used did not provide Arrow’s bridge team with an accurate view of the available safe water in the Aberdeen approach channel.
  • Poor bridge ergonomics and limited electronic chart system capabilities meant that the PEC holder was navigating by use of radar alone.

The MAIB made no recommendations.

The MAIB report can be found at: MAIB investigation report 8-2021: Arrow

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