MS Hamburg Grounding May 11, 2015
Hamburg Cruises Sa, Ms Hamburg Grounded Near New Rocks Buoy In The Sound Of Mull, Scotland With 297 Passengers, 164 Crew Aboard
At 1328 hours on May 11, 2015, MS Hamburg grounded on charted rocks near the New Rocks buoy in the Sound of Mull, Scotland with 297 passengers and 164 crew aboard. The accident caused considerable raking damage to the hull and rendered the port propeller, shaft and rudder un-serviceable. There were no injuries and the vessel continued on its passage to Tobermory.
Hamburg shook violently as it grounded, but it did not become fast on the rocky shoal. The master immediately ordered the helm hard to port to swing the vessel’s stern clear of the shoal; he then ordered a southerly course again. Hamburg’s port and starboard main engines automatically declutched and the port main engine stopped. A switchboard preferential trip also activated, resulting in the temporary loss of electrical power to some navigational systems. The emergency generator started automatically, restoring electrical power to many systems, including the navigational equipment. Multiple alarms sounded both on the bridge and in the engine room control room as various equipment shut down, either automatically or as a result of power loss.
A Bermuda Government Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) report identified the following information as relevant to this case.
At 1332, on the master’s order, the cruise director made a public address (PA) announcement, in German, to the passengers informing them that all was well and that the cruise would continue.
At 1820, the Dublin Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre (MRCC) was alerted to the accident when the concerned mother of a crew member telephoned them. She had been having a telephone conversation with the crew member about the accident when mobile phone contact was suddenly lost. Fearing the worst, she contacted the coastguard.
The master was a 57 year old Portuguese national. This was his third contract as the master of Hamburg and he had been on board for just over 1 month. The master had been at sea for more than 35 years and had held a master’s certificate of competency (CoC) for over 20 years. He held an unlimited master’s STCW II/2 CoC issued in Portugal. He had previously served on board container and general cargo vessels, but had moved into the passenger ship sector in 1995. The master had attended a Bridge Resource Management (BRM) course in October 2010 in Portugal.
Hamburg’s 164 crew were made up of 22 different nationalities, predominantly Filipino, Indonesian and Ukrainian.
Hamburg grounded on the charted New Rocks shoal because the bridge team did not recognise that their vessel was approaching the New Rocks buoy from an unsafe direction. Contributing to this lack of awareness were significant shortcomings in the conduct of navigation on board Hamburg, which were compounded by almost non-existent teamwork between the officers on the bridge. While the master was evidently under a degree of stress following the grounding, appropriate post-grounding actions were not taken. Consequently, an attempt was made to anchor the vessel in Tobermory Bay before a full assessment of the damage had been conducted and before any of the port, coastal state or company had been informed of the accident.
Despite this being Hamburg’s bridge team’s first visit to Tobermory, a pre-arrival briefing was not held on board. Tobermory Bay was sheltered but confined, the weather was poor, the anchorages were already occupied and there were no tugs available. At 0933 the master received an email informing him that Hebridean Princess was expected to leave at 1215, so it was foreseeable that Hamburg’s arrival would be delayed.
It was evident from the bridge audio recorded by Hamburg’s VDR that there was very little information flow or discussion within the bridge team. This is not surprising given the fact that they had no common understanding of the arrival plan and were working in isolation rather than cohesively.
Hamburg grounded on the charted New Rocks shoal because the bridge team did not recognise that their vessel was approaching the New Rocks buoy from an unsafe direction. The individuals on the bridge were working in isolation, with no recognition of their individual responsibilities and therefore unable to provide the master with the assistance he required to maintain his situational awareness.The master did not demand a high standard of navigational practices from hisofficers which resulted in a weak practices amongst the bridge team.
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency prosecuted Hamburg’s master for the failure of passage plan under SOLAS and failure to report an accident contrary to the Merchant Shipping (Accident Reporting and Investigation) Regulations 2012. The master pleaded guilty and was fined.
Related Article Resources:
MS Hamburg MAIB Investigation Report
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Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania
Sinking of The Titanic and Great Sea Disasters
Cruise Tourism in Polar Regions: Promoting Environmental and Social Sustainability