Containership Collision With Bridge – Investigation Report

On 20.00 on 2 June 2010, the Finnish dry cargo vessel NAJADEN and the car carrier PALMELA informed to the VMC-ZWN Traffic Control Centre in southwestern Holland controlling the Caland Bridge that they needed the bridge to be opened so that they could sail from the Brittanniehaven towards the Caland Canal. The PALMELA reported first, and after her the NAJADEN. The NAJADEN told that she wanted to use the same bridge opening as the PALMELA.

2013.05.20 - Containership Collision With Bridge Figure 1

It can be concluded from the radar images later published by the Port of Rotterdam Authority, Division Harbourmaster that two river boats sailed under the fixed part of the bridge during the opening, one of which, the ALEXIA, sailed in the same direction as the NAJADEN and the PALMELA.

During the opening of the bridge, the bridge operator trainee, who at the moment managed the Caland Bridge, monitored the traffic situation by browsing camera pictures, which could be seen in the control table. On the basis of this information the bridge operator trainee concluded that the dry cargo vessel NAJADEN was passing beneath the bridge at a certain moment. In all probability, the bridge operator trainee mistook the river boat ALEXIA, which was passing the fixed part of the bridge, to be the NAJADEN. The bridge operator trainee waited until the ALEXIA had passed beneath the bridge and started the lowering procedure, which means that the movable part of the Caland Bridge closes down. At that moment the NAJADEN informed by VHF radiotelephone that she had not yet passed beneath the bridge. The bridge operator trainee pressed the stop button. The lift bridge stopped by a slow stop approximately six metres below its upmost position.

2013.05.20 - Containership Collision With Bridge Figure 2

At 20.42 the NAJADEN reported that she had been hit by the bridge. The part of the bridge to be lifted/lowered hit the roof of the navigating bridge and destroyed almost all equipment on the roof of the navigating bridge and tore off the funnel of the vessel.

The accident had all the ingredients to become fatal with reference to the safety of human life. Personal damages were, however, only just avoided.

According to the investigation that has been conducted the inadequate training of the bridge operator trainee, inadequate supervision, the lack of a formal training programme and the lack of a quick, remotely-used emergency stop of the bridge constituted the causes and underlying factors of the accident.

2013.05.20 - Containership Collision With Bridge Figure 4

2013.05.20 - Containership Collision With Bridge Figure 3

The investigation also reached to the following conclusions:

  • The accident was very dangerous with reference to human life and vessel safety, and personal damages were only just avoided. This accident also showed that a bridge operator holds a very responsible task and requires more efficient training.
  • The direct cause of the accident can be considered to be inadequate experience in interpreting camera pictures and in identifying vessel types. Insufficient training, the operator trainee acting without the supervision of the experienced bridge operator, the lack of a formal training programme and the absence of the remote-use of a quick emergency stop constituted the contributing factors.
  • The fact that there is no final notification procedure can be regarded as a missing safety procedure.
  • Whether the Caland Bridge is operated safely has not been assessed thoroughly enough, because the result has been that the bridge is remote-used without any possi-bility to use a quick emergency stop.

The investigation also made the following recommendations:

  • A real-time, AIS-based radar image of the port area should be available, in addition to video monitoring, in the operating centre of remote-operated bridges.
  • Identification of different vessels and vessel types, goals and responsibilities of trainee and supervisor should be included as part of the training programme and that it would be subject to the safety management system of Rijkswaterstaat.
  • The bridge operator VMC-ZWN should investigate the visibility of shipping, thereby taking into account the various camera locations and the ergonomics regarding the use of the camera images, and takes appropriate action if improvements are possible.
  • According to the instructions, a before-hand agreement must be made on the opening of the bridge, but after the passing beneath the bridge has taken place, no final notification is required. A final notification would be an additional safety measure of vital importance.
  • It is recommended that the VMC-ZWN draws a clear procedure requirement on the opening of the bridge and on the final notification to be given after the passing be-neath the bridge has been completed.

Source: Finland Safety Investigation Authority


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