Over confidence played a part in the grounding, said the report © Patrick Boulen/CMA CGM
Over confidence played a part in the grounding, said the report © Patrick Boulen/CMA CGM

UK's largest ship ran aground due to pilot error

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
4 December 2017

The grounding of one of the world’s biggest container ships off Southampton was caused by pilot error, an investigation has concluded.

In a report, the UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch found standards of navigation, communication and use of electronic charting aids “did not meet the expectations of the port or the company”.

The 399m CMA CGM Vasco de Gama, at the time the largest ship under a UK flag, ran aground in August 2016 as it attempted a tricky turn to enter Southampton docks.

The report said a detailed plan for the manoeuvre had not been produced and roles and responsibilities were unclear.

“It was apparent that complacency and a degree of over confdence on the part of the master and port pilots contributed to this accident,” said the report.

The report said the ship was refloated on a rising tide with tug assistance but said the increasing size of ships in restricted waterways was reducing “margins of operational safety”.

“The vessel’s hull was undamaged and there were no injuries or pollution. This was because CMA CGM Vasco de Gama grounded in fair conditions on a soft and flat seabed on a rising tide. Had the vessel grounded on a falling tide, or the tugs not been able to pull it into deeper water, the consequences could have been much more severe.”

The report said ships had run aground in the same area in 2001, 2008 and February 2016.

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