Another grounding in UK waters related to poor navigation has prompted a warning from accident investigators over the use of electronic systems.
The UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) said an incident involving the 10,000-dwt chemical tanker Ovit (built 2011) in the early hours of 18 September 2013 was the third it had probed involving improper use of electronic chart display and information systems (ECDIS).
The Ayder Tankers vessel got stuck on the Varne Bank in the Dover Strait with a cargo of vegetable oil, but refloated on the rising tide after three hours.
The officer of the watch was following a route shown on the ECDIS that passed directly over Varne.
The passage was planned by an inexperienced and unsupervised junior officer and was not checked by the master before departure or by the officer of the watch at the start of his watch.
Navigational marks on the Varne bank were seen but not acted upon and the system’s audible alarm did not work.
The officer’s situational awareness was so poor it took him 19 minutes to notice the ship had grounded, MAIB added.
ECDIS training had been provided, but the master and officers were not able to use it properly
A recommendation has been made to Marine Information Systems intended to improve the functionality of its ECDIS 900.
And the incident prompted MAIB chief inspector Steve Clinch to write: “Unfortunately, the current generation of ECDIS systems, though certified as complying with regulatory requirements, can be operated at a very low level of functionality and with key safety features disabled or circumvented.
“While systems allow individuals to operate them in a sub-standard manner, there are those who will do so: such is human nature.”
He called for the next generation of ECDIS to include features to make them less vulnerable to the “vagaries of human performance.”
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