Grounding of Chinese Cargo Vessel – Investigation Report

This incident investigation report refers to the grounding of Chinese registered Cargo Ship. At 2220 on 7 May 2011, the Chinese registered river-trade cargo vessel Zhong Fu Fa Zhan departed the loading berth at Tseung Kwan O, in Junk Bay, Hong Kong after loaded a cargo of 2,200 tonnes of soil for discharge in Taishan, China. The weather was fine and the visibility was good. The navigation equipment and main engines were in normal working condition. The Master was on duty alone in the bridge after departure. The Chief Officer took over the watch from the Master at 0000 on 8 May 2011, also alone at the bridge. At about 0031 and 0032 on 8 May 2011, the Chief Officer made a report to VTC by radio. About 40 seconds later, the ship ran aground on the shoal of Adamasta Rock in North Cheung Chau Traffic Separation Scheme while the Chief Officer was making entries into ship log book.

2014.01.26 - Grounding of Chinese Cargo Vessel - Investigation Report Figure 1

2014.01.26 - Grounding of Chinese Cargo Vessel - Investigation Report Figure 3

Accident timeline

At 2220 on 7 May 2011, the Chinese registered river-trade cargo ship Zhong Fu Fa Zhan departed from the loading wharf at Tseung Kwan O, Junk Bay, Hong Kong with a cargo of 2,200 tonnes of soil in its cargo hold and sailed for Taishan, China. The observed drafts of the vessel on departure were 3.20 metres forward, and 3.70 metres aft. The vessel listed slightly to the starboard on departure. The Master was on the first watch at and after ship departure without watch-keeping rating on the bridge.

At 2357 on 7 May 2011, the Chief Officer took over the navigation watch on the bridge. The vessel was passing north of Green Island and entering into the western fairway. The Master left the bridge at about 0000 on 8 May 2011. All navigation equipment and lights were in normal working condition. There was no watch-keeping rating on the bridge.

At 0021 on 8 May 2011, according to VTC record, the vessel passed the Hei Ling Buoy and proceeded on a course over ground (COG) 241º, with a speed of about 8.5 knots.

At 0030, the vessel was on a course over ground 236º, with a speed of about 8.0 knots and started turning gradually to port. About 21 seconds later, the vessel was on course over ground 221º, with a speed of about 9.0 knots. And about 71 seconds later, she was on a course over ground 214º, with a speed of about 8.0 knots proceeding towards the shoal between the Adamasta Rock and the Adamasta Rock NW light buoy.

At 0031, according to the requirement of Hong Kong Vessel Traffic Service reporting system at the reporting point of Adamasta Rock, the Chief Officer made the first attempt of radio call to Vessel Traffic Center (VTC) to report ship’s position. At the time of the reporting, the vessel was approaching to the shoal on a course over ground 208º, maintaining a speed of about 8.0 knots.

At about 0032, the Chief Officer reported to VTC on passing the reporting point of Adamasta Rock and confirmed her next reporting point would be on passing the Fan Lau Kok (the southwestern end of Siu A Chau Traffic Separation Scheme). The vessel was standing on a course over ground 208º and proceeding towards the shoal directly. About 40 seconds after the VTC reporting and while the Chief Officer was making entries into ship log book, the vessel ran aground on the underwater rock,  giving off big banging sound and severe hull vibration. Water entered into its cargo hold.

2014.01.26 - Grounding of Chinese Cargo Vessel - Investigation Report Figure 4

2014.01.26 - Grounding of Chinese Cargo Vessel - Investigation Report Figure 5

At about 0033, the vessel stopped and grounded firmly on the extending shoal between the Adamasta Rock light tower and the Adamasta Rock NW light buoy.

At about 0035, the Master of the vessel reported to VTC that his vessel’s cargo hold was flooding and requested for assistance. The VTC informed the Fire Services Department and the Police to provide the necessary assistance.

At about 0038, the Master reported to VTC that no crew was injured and there was no oil pollution.

At about 0055, all 7 crewmembers of the vessel were rescued by the Police launch.

2014.01.26 - Grounding of Chinese Cargo Vessel - Investigation Report Figure 2

Root causes

The investigation revealed the following as the main contributing factors to the accident:

  1. The Master of the vessel did not carry out proper voyage planning, using charts, nautical publications and all available information, for the safe passage of his vessel.
  2. The Master and the Chief Officer did not request for additional watch-keeping ratings to assist in look-out duty while the vessel was sailing in congested water and in the Traffic Separation Scheme.  The Master and the Chief Officer relied solely on an unreliable Electronic Charting System on board for monitoring of ship position during sailing.
  3. Prior to the accident, the Officer’s attention on conning the vessel was distracted by making vessel’s position reports to Marine Department and making entries into ship’s log book.
  4. The manning of the vessel for the voyage from Hong Kong to Taishan, China did not comply with the requirement of the Flag State (Chinese Flag).
  5. The Chief Officer was not familiar with the conventional direction of buoyage system.
  6. The Chief Officer may not be familiar with the green Adamasta Rock NW buoy and the red Adamasta Rock SE buoy as the port hand lateral buoys of the channels.
  7. The vessel was overloaded on her departure from Hong Kong.

Lessons to be learned

  1. Such incidents, among others, highlight the following lessons to be learned:
  2. Carry out proper voyage planning for safe passage of the vessel before sailing, using charts, nautical publications and all available information.
  3. Provide additional watch-keeping ratings to assist in look-out duty, considering the prevailing circumstances (for example congested waters). The manning of the vessel should be in accordance with the Minimum Safe Manning.
  4. Instruct all navigational officers to make proper use of paper charts, GPS and radar for monitoring ship position. The electronic means of navigation are no substitute for paper charts.
  5. Loading of cargo should be in accordance with the vessel’s capabilities and relevant safety regulations.
  6. Proper voyage planning is essential in ensuring the vessel’s safe passage, especially when transiting coastal areas and congested waters.

Source: Hong Kong Marine Department

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