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    Safety Flash issued after vessel collides with platform

    News // November 18, 2005

    The Marine Safety Forum has issued a Safety Flash – Safety Flash 23/05 - following an incident in which a vessel made contact with an offshore installation.

    The incident occured whilst an AHTS was manoeuvring alongside an offshore installation for cargo operations.

    The vessel made contact with the installation and then further contact as she attempted to pull clear.

    Weather conditions were with the vessel in a ‘blow-on’ situation with wind 20-25 knots and a 2m swell. The current was 0.4kts and in a general ‘aft-to-forward’ direction to the ship.

    The master and the installation completed pre-entry 500m checklists and the ship approached the installation using the forward set of bridge controls.

    The ship was then manoeuvred to approximately 50-60m off the installation and the stern swung towards the installation.

    During this manoeuvre the master, who was in command, changed his control position from the forward consol to the aft manual-control position.

    When the stern was in the general direction of the required final position and approximately 30-40m off, the main engines were given an astern command and the ship gathered speed towards the rig.

    With this astern movement the master then changed over to joystick control.

    The ship was moving astern and closing the rig faster than the master wanted and he came ahead on the joystick to stop this movement. The ‘ahead’ command of the joystick increased the speed towards the installation and on checking the propeller pitch gauges, he noted that they were 50-60 per cent astern rather than going ahead.

    The master immediately changed back to manual control, bringing the engines full ahead in an attempt to stop the astern movement towards the rig.

    Unfortunately, this was too late and the ship’s starboard stern area collided with the installation.

    During approach and contact, the vessel had also drifted beam-on towards the rig and, although the master averted contact on the way in, he could not stop the ‘blow-on’ situation and further contact was made with another part of the installation whilst manoeuvring away.

    The master advised that during his final approach there were VHF calls from the installation which he answered.

    The Marine Safety Forum notes that the immediate cause(s) of the incident were that the Master was not familiar with equipment being used:

    • The master was very experienced but new to the company and to this ship. He was unfamiliar with the operation of the joystick control unit and had never sailed with this
    specific piece of kit before. Post-incident investigation revealed that the joystick was in the wrong operating mode. (Transit instead of Position).

    • The master and the driving mate had only been on board one week and this was their first offshore voyage. They had only received a paper handover from the previous master/mate.

    Lack of Knowledge/Failure to Follow Procedures:

    • The master did not follow company 500m checklist, industry standards and common marine practice which requires a vessel to stop at least 50m off the installation and set up in the required position and heading to check that all equipment is fully operational and that the ship can maintain station against the prevailing weather conditions prior to making final approach. The control equipment and joystick should have been checked as fully operational prior to entering the 500m zone.

    Communication with Installation:

    • By answering the VHF with the installation, the master was distracted from the problems he was having.

    The Root Cause(s) of the incident include:

    Process Control:

    • The company management systems failed to ensure senior crew members, including the master, mate and chief engineer, were given adequate handover, instruction or time on board the vessel with an experienced person(s) to familiarise themselves with the complex systems involved in operating the vessel.

    Risk Management/Management of Change:

    • The management systems failed to ensure the full understanding and implementation of the vessel safety management system by senior crew members.


    • Operational procedures did not address vessel operations within the 500m zone.

    • The Installation and vessel were using different 500m checklists. The installation was using the checklist within their data card and UKOOA standard; the ship was using one developed within the company which did not address the checking of joystick systems.


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