02/2021 AGROUND

This Marine Notice draws the attention of vessel owners, operators, masters, crews, pilots and the public to the requirements for when a vessel goes ‘AGROUND’.

MSAF has noticed that there are many alternate terms in use for when a vessel grounds itself by many different people and they include;

“Beached, Floundered, Stuck, Ashore, Stranded, Marooned, Wrecked, Disabled, Careening, Allision (separate to Collision), Reefed, Touched a reef, Glanced a reef, Gently touched bottom, Kissed the bottom, Nudged the land.”

All these terms are, in fact, summarised as a vessel that has ‘Grounded’ itself and MSAF will categorize all reports in this manner. It is important to note the consequences that occur from this, in particular it is timely to remind people that the operator of the Titanic at the marine inquiry stated the vessel ‘Glanced an iceberg’.

Emergency actions that need to be considered and taken in case of ship grounding includes:-

  • Immediate stop of engines;
  • Instant checking in order to ascertain any internal damage, water intakes or leakages and all watertight doors to be closed;
  • All stakeholders should be notified immediately;
  • Light/shapes and sound signals to be carried out;
  • Take control of possible pollution;
  • Record of vessel’s position, date and time of the incident;
  • Keep the company/regulator/emergency response organisations and nearby vessels informed.

The vessel safety management system should have a procedure to prepare for and respond to emergency situations. This should include the above and below as well.

In addition, Ship operators and Ship Masters need to be aware of the rectification actions necessary to allow the ship to sail, as on impact, the ship’s hull integrity has been compromised and needs to be assessed for any damage both internally and through an underwater inspection.

The vessel will not be allowed to sail until such time as the ship operator has undertaken these requirements which should be witnessed by a surveyor. The operator will need to make these arrangements and inform the travelling public about the cancellation of voyages during this period including use of social media.

Ship grounding accidents are mostly caused by human errors, lack of Bridge Resource Management [BRM] principles being used, improper navigational operations or faulty navigation instruments, bad weather conditions or an engine breakdown. These will be investigated to ensure repeat occurrences are minimised.

 For any intentional Beaching operation, the operator needs to ensure their vessel has been built to allow for repeated operations of this type. The Operator will need to provide a Classification Society report that the vessel has been built with ‘Bottom Strengthened’ for beaching to occur and this will need to be included in its SSMS. (Note: This is not contained within the simple description of vessel type.)

Maritime Safety Authority of Fiji

15th January 2021

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