Chennai oil spill: Pilot error, fatigue to blame for collision of ships near Ennore port

Nov 12, 2017, 12:49 IST | PTI

Human error due to fatigue is the prime reason for the collision of two cargo ships near Ennore Port in January last, a report of the investigating team of the Directorate General of Shipping said. The mishap occurred at 4 AM on January 28, when M T BW Maple with a flag of Isle of Man was leaving the port after emptying Liquefied Petroleum Gas and MT Dawn Kancheepuram, loaded with petroleum oil lubricant was on its way to berth at the port.

Pilot error, fatigue to blame for collision of ships near Ennore portOil Spill near Ennore Port

Human factor appeared to be the prime reason for the collision and fatigue to the pilots could have been a contributing factor for the mishap, it said. "Fatigue is apparent on the team of BW Maple, since the vessel had an inspection the previous day (of the incident) and the ship's master and his team rest hours were "near violation," the report submitted recently said.

The Master of BW Maple was also "psychologically stressed" and that adversely affected his decision-making ability, it said. "On verification it was revealed that he had received a discouraging mail from the managers on the vessel's performance in an audit, that was held in the same port and was not in good frame of mind," it added.

Suggesting regulation of the rest hours of the pilots and other port officials following the mishap, the findings said the draft Indian Maritime Pilots Regulations, which have been drawn by the National Shipping Board's committee may be "ratified and implemented."

The master of BW Maple did not alert the master or duty officer about the presence of another vessel which was just right ahead in close range, leading to human error and the mishap, it said. The report also recommended that one of the lapses in the probe of the incident was the "incorrect assessment of the quantity of oil spill" and said more methods and equipment may be identified and deployed for assessment of extent of spillage.

According to the report, that the final quantity of oil spill following the collision of the two ships was estimated to be 251.46 tonnes. The report suggested an advisory may be considered for issuance to all ports to regulate third-party inspections on board ships that visit ports so that the rest hours of the ships' staff have not deviated against the law.

The investigating team also observed that one of the positive takeaways from the incident was the support of volunteers from various sections in cleaning the oil spill. "From students to fishermen, worked together for the oil spill clean up. Another positive observation was the coming together of all central and state government agencies in clean up and also in settlement of the claims," it added.

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