ECDIS Incompetence Led to Chemical Tanker Grounding -MAIB Incident Report

Mike Schuler
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September 12, 2014

Photo courtesy MAIB

The UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch has released its report from an investigation into the September 2013 grounding of the chemical tanker Ovit in the Dover Strait.

Early on September 18, 2013, the Malta registered tanker Ovit ran aground on the Varne Bank in the Dover Strait while carrying a cargo of vegetable oil. The vessel remained aground for just under 3 hours, there was no injuries or pollution, and damage to the vessel was considered superficial.

Through their investigation, MAIB found that poor use of the electronic chart display and information system (ECDIS) was the primary factor in the incident. The investigation showed that Ovit’s primary means of navigation was the ECDIS display, which the officer of the watch followed even though the route shown passed directly over the Varne Bank, and MAIB said the analysis of this system, its installation, training and operation formed the backbone of their report.

Key safety factors identified by the investigation were:

  • The passage was planned by an inexperienced and unsupervised junior officer. The plan was not check by the master before departure or by the officer of the watch at the start of his watch.
  • The ship’s position was monitored solely against the intended track shown on the ECDIS. Navigational marks on the Varne bank were seen by not acted upon.
  • The scale of the chart shown on ECDIS was inappropriate. The operator-defined settings applied to the system were unsuitable and the system’s audible alarm did not work.
  • The officer of the watch’s situational awareness was so poor that it took him 19 minutes to realize that Ovit was grounded.
  • Although training in the use of the ECDIS fitted to the vessel had been provided, the master and deck officers were unable to use system effectively.
  • A Channel Navigation Information Service (CNIS) procedure, which should have alerted Ovit’s officer of the watch as the tanker approached the Varne Bank, was not followed because the procedure had not been formalized and an unqualified and unsupervised CNIS operator was distracted.

The full MAIB report can be found HERE.

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