Learning from accidents and their causes can be an effective way of developing a safety culture. The Directorate General of Shipping - the Indian maritime administration – chose to interact with shipping, manning and ship management companies through a seminar held this afternoon by highlighting four casualties that took place on the Indian coast and used the opportunity to drive home the point that there is no place for complacency in ship operations.
The purpose of the seminar Dr S. B. Agnihotri, the Director General of Shipping, Government of India, explained was to use such forums to bring to the notice of the sailing staff about complacency primarily being responsible for accidents. “As the traffic density increases the chances of accidents taking place on the coast increases because of complacency,” he stated. “Instead of interacting every time through seminars we would also like to have the DPA (Designated Person Ashore) to interact regularly with the directorate.”
Presentations on four accidents that occurred in the past few months were made by the investigation officers. The collision between MSC Chitra with Khalijia III was deliberated on by Capt Harish Khatri, Deputy Director General (Technical). He explained the causes that led to the accident which resulted in Khalijia colliding with MSC Chitra’s port side and rupturing her tanks. Because of pilot shortage the pilots of both vessels had left the ship much before the disembarking point. The collision resulted in 1400 tons of oil polluting the coast, MSC Chitra listing and 512 containers spilling into the sea leading to total blockage of the two major ports Mumbai port and JNPT which have a common approach channel. The causes of accident were assigned to a number of factors - all boiled down to complacency and both the masters of the concerned vessels were held responsible.
The investigation on the collision between Green Valley and Tiger Spring in the Hooghly River at Kolkata port was made by Capt Mukesh Budania, Nautical Surveyor. He said that both captains of the vessels in question were known to have called at the Kolkata port regularly. On the day of the collision one vessel was outbound the other was coming in. The master of the first was a Chinese and the other Polish, indicating that there existed difficulty in communicating in English and could have added to the confusion. In this case both vessels had a pilot on board.
Kolkata port has no VTS and the navigation channel narrow. The master of Tiger Spring did not have enough sleep because he was involved in loading cargo all through. Though both vessels were well equipped there was a failure to monitor the movement of each vessel. It was learnt that the master of the Tiger Spring had been altering the speed without the knowledge of the pilot. Complacency again is said to have led to the accident.
The third accident featured was the grounding of m.v. Mirach a bulk carrier at Colachal and investigated by A. B. Solanki, Nautical Surveyor. The vessel had loaded iron ore fine at Vishakhapatnam and on its way out. The third officer had relieved chief officer without adhering to handing over procedure. The vessel was on auto pilot at 7 knots speed and had veered off course thus sailing into a sandbar. The ship was ground due to poor navigation and complacency. After the ship grounded the salvers could recover only 32 cum of oil out of 200 cum.
A ‘hit and run’ accident involved Y. M. America and fishing vessel Odhari Krupa. Having left Pipavav port Y. M. America carrying 3600 TEU containers, headed for Malaysia at full speed. Dense traffic was reported in the sea with several fishing vessels operating around. The chief mate had taken over from the 2 Officer when the fishing vessel was first noticed about 1.5 km away and little later came across the bow of Y.M. America. The chief mate did not report to the master about having crashed into a fishing vessel which had six men on board. The VTS Khambat reported the accident to the directorate and the vessel was directed to Kachi anchorage. There were five survivors and one man reported missing.
Capt Nitin Bawa, Nautical Surveyor who undertook the investigation informed, “Had it not been for the VTS reporting the fishing vessel accident, Y. M. America would have left the Indian territorial waters and it would have been difficult to arrest it. Capt Bawa had to establish that Y. M. America was responsible for the sinking of the fishing vessel. In his investigation he discovered scratches at draft of 9.7 meters. Rust had peeled off at the place where the ship had hit the fishing vessel. He ascertained the location from VTS Khambat and corroborated with the ship’s GPS log. Besides, the course recorder indicated course alterations. The cause of the accident was said to be ineffective lookout.
Complacency is nothing but an attitude problem and attitude can be changed.