Damage to the MT Apollo. Photo courtesy London Port Authority
The U.K.’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch has released its accident report into its investigation of the July 2013 allision of the oil tanker Apollo with the quayside at Northfleet Hope Container Terminal on the River Thames.
According to the report, early on 25 July 2013, the German-owned MT Apollo was rounding Tilburyness in the River Thames in a strong tidal flow when it left its intended track and made contact with the quayside at the Northfleet Hope Container Terminal. The vessel, which was loaded with 22,000 tons of gas oil at the time, and the quayside both sustained significant damage as a result of the accident.
At the time of the allision, the vessel’s bridge team consisted of two Port of London Authority pilots, the master, who had just returned to the bridge just before the accident, the OOW and a helmsman.
The report found that one of the pilots was undertaking a practical examination and was not authorized to pilot a vessel of Apollo’s length and draught.
The report also found that neither of the pilots were aware that the vessel was fitted with a controllable pitch propeller, which was briefly set to zero as the Apollo rounded Tilburyness, after which the vessel veered off course.
The key safety issues identified in the report included: Tilburyness is an area with strong and complex tidal streams and there have been 4 accidents in this area since 2007; the information regarding the vessel’s propulsion system was not readily available to the pilots, either through the port’s information data system or the vessel’s pilot card; the examination was not conducted in a commentary style, compromising the ability of the bridge team to communicate effectively; the size of the vessel was inappropriate for the examination as it was larger than the size for which the pilot was being examined.
The report states that the vessel’s manager has taken action to prevent a recurrence and a recommendation has been made to the Port of London Authority, the UK Marine Pilots Association and the Port Marine Safety Code Steering Group to develop best practice guidelines for the conduct of practical pilotage examinations.
The full report downloaded HERE.
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