Fatal Bulk Carrier and Cargo Ship Collision – Investigation Report

At about 2251 local time on 17 March 2007, a Hong Kong general cargo ship collided with a Chinese registered bulk carrier. At the time of the accident, the weather conditions were fine with northerly wind at force 4. The sea was moderate and the visibility was about 7 nautical miles (n.m.). The Bulk Carrier sustained damages to the bow and the Cargo Ship sank shortly after the collision. Twelve crew members of the Cargo Ship were rescued. Eight crew members were found missing and nine crew members were drowned.

2013.04.08 - Fatal Bulk Carrier and Cargo Ship Collision Figure 1

Course of events according to the Cargo Ship

At the time of the collision, only the Third Officer and watchkeeping quartermaster were on duty in the wheelhouse. The Third Officer was found missing after the collision and the following information was provided by the survived quartermaster and other crew members such as Chief Officer, etc..

2013.04.08 - Fatal Bulk Carrier and Cargo Ship Collision Figure 2

The Cargo Ship had departed from Xingang, China at about 1530 with a cargo of steel and chemical products and coke on 15 March 2007 to Bangkok, Thailand. The vessel was on a course of 176ºT with a speed of 12.9 knots.

The quartermaster reported duty at the wheelhouse at 2205 and he was instructed by the Master to go down to deck to close the doors of the masthouse. At 2215 the quartermaster returned to the wheelhouse and he observed that there was a vessel on the port side showing green sidelight at a range of about 2 nautical miles (n.m.). There
was no other traffic in the vicinity.

At about 2220 the Master left the wheelhouse after completing the night order book. At about 2230 the Third Officer of the Bulk Carrier communicated with the Third Officer of the Cargo Ship on channel 16 of VHF. They exchanged information on their departure ports and next ports.

At about 2235 the Bulk Carrier requested the Cargo Ship to take avoiding action to alter course to port by putting the helm 10º to port and the Bulk Carrier would take avoiding action by altering course to starboard to keep clear of the former vessel. The Cargo Ship agreed with the Bulk Carrier and altered course to port by putting the helm 10º to port. Two to three minutes later, the Bulk Carrier requested the Cargo Ship to put the helm hard to port and the Cargo Ship took avoiding action accordingly.

When the two vessels were at very close range, the Cargo Ship informed the Bulk Carrier that she could not take any action to avoid collision and requested the Bulk Carrier to alter course to starboard as early as possible. There was no response from the Bulk Carrier and the two vessels collided.

Between 2245 and 2250, the bow of the Bulk Carrier struck the No. 3 cargo hold of the Cargo Ship and the latter vessel sank after 15 to 20 minutes.

Course of events according to the Bulk Carrier

The Bulk Carrier departed from Huanghua Gang, China with 56,330 tonnes of coal cargo on board on 15 Match 2007 to Xiji, China. The vessel was on a course of 179ºT with a speed of 11 knots.

2013.04.08 - Fatal Bulk Carrier and Cargo Ship Collision Figure 3

At 2220 Third officer observed the Cargo Ship on the radar bearing 330ºT at a range of 0.5 n.m. and at 2250 the latter vessel bore 25 º on her starboard bow at a range of 0.3 n.m. Third Officer contacted the Cargo Ship on VHF Channel 16 requesting to alter course to port and informed the Cargo Ship that the Bulk Carrier would alter course to starboard to keep clear of the stern of the former vessel. The Cargo Ship agreed to the Bulk Carrier’s proposed avoiding actions and the latter vessel alter course to hard to starboard.

At 2252 Third officer observed that the bow of the Bulk Carrier was heading towards the Cargo Ship but the range was unknown. At 2254 the bow of the Bulk Carrier struck the starboard side of the Cargo Ship at a position between No. 3 and No. 4 cargo holds at an angle between 70º to 80º. The collision position was 30º 32.5’N 123º 15.6’E.

After the collision, Third Officer immediately called the Master who went up to the bridge and the Cargo Ship sank within 20 minutes. At the time of the collision, only the
Third Officer and watchkeeping quartermaster were on duty in the wheelhouse.

2013.04.08 - Fatal Bulk Carrier and Cargo Ship Collision Figure 4

The investigation revealed the following probable causes of the collision:

  • The Cargo Ship, being a stand-on vessel in a crossing situation, appeared to have failed to comply with Rule 17 of the Collision Regulations (COLREGS) by taking the advice of give-way vessel the Bulk Carrier and altered course to port.
  • The Bulk Carrier which was a give-way vessel to the Cargo Ship appeared to have failed to comply with Rule 16 of the Collision Regulations (COLREGS) by not taking early action to keep well clear of the other vessel.
  • The actions taken by the Third Officers on both vessels clearly indicated that they had not observed the requirements of the COLREGS and the STCW Code as described in the analysis.

Source: Hong Kong Marine Department

Comments

  1. adrian says:

    I don’t understand why the master of cargo vesssel left the bridge at 2220 when distance between both ships was 5 cbls ? something wrong there.

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: