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At 0318 on 19 July 2002, the Liberian flag container ship ANL Excellence embarked a pilot off Point Cartwright, Queensland, for the passage to Fisherman Islands container terminal in the Port of Brisbane. After arriving on the bridge, the pilot set up a portable electronic chart display equipped with a differential global positioning system, to allow him to independently monitor the passage to the berth.

The pilotage proceeded routinely. There were no other movements within the port or the approach channels during this time. The weather was reasonable, though visibility was reduced at times by passing rain showers.

At 0518, ANL Excellence passed beacon E1 and entered the East Channel. Rain was falling at this time and the bridge window wipers were operating. Ahead, the starboard lateral beacon E3 and the port lateral beacons E2 and E4 could be seen. A temporary, starboard lateral buoy was marking the position of the cardinal beacon E5 which had been destroyed by a ship some 15 months previously. This temporary buoy was not seen by anyone on the bridge.

As the vessel passed starboard lateral beacon E3, the pilot ordered starboard rudder to bring the ship to a heading of 240 and then called Brisbane Port Control to advise that the ship would be at the entrance channel at 0600.

The master, sitting in front of one of the two radars, realised that the relative bearings of beacons E4 and E2 were changing and went to the helmsman to see what was happening. The pilot went to his electronic chart system, which had reverted to a blank screen stand-by mode. He tapped a key and when the chart was restored he suddenly realised that he had ordered the course alteration too soon.

The main engine was stopped and put astern, but ANL Excellence grounded before the ship had begun to slow.

The ship was refloated on the high tide of the afternoon of 19 July 2002, using its main engine and with the aid of tugs. Following an inspection of the hull, both internally and externally on 20 July, the vessel was cleared by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, and its classification society to continue in service.

The report conclusions include:

  • The pilot did not follow his normal procedure of checking the position of the course alteration using his portable electronic chart system.
  • The temporary buoy marking the original position of the original east cardinal beacon E5 (the turning mark) was obscured by rain.
  • The green light on the temporary buoy was not as conspicuous as a white light, which would normally be associated with a cardinal navigation mark.
  • Although not suffering from chronic fatigue, the pilot's performance was probably affected by the trough in his circadian rhythm associated with the hours between 0400 and 0600.
  • The pilot's electronic chart system was placed at a significant distance from where he was standing, with its display in power saving mode at a critical moment.
  • The bridge team did not detect the erroneous helm order and failed to challenge the pilot.

The report recommends that:

  • Where port authorities use a buoy or other temporary aid to replace an established navigation aid, the shape and the light characteristics of the temporary aid should be consistent with those of the aid it replaces.
  • Brisbane Marine Pilots should review the power management settings and placement of a pilot's portable electronic chart system to ensure that the information displayed remains easily visible from the pilot's conning position at all times during a pilotage.

Conclusions

These conclusions identify the different factors contributing to the incident and should not be read as apportioning blame or liability to any particular individual or organisation.

Based on the evidence available, ANL Excellence grounded on Middle Banks on 19 July 2002 as a result of the pilot erroneously ordering an alteration of course at the starboard lateral beacon E3 instead of at the temporary starboard lateral buoy marking the position of the original east cardinal beacon E5. The following are considered to be factors in the incident:

  1. The pilot did not follow his normal procedure of checking the position of the course alteration using his portable electronic chart system.
  2. The temporary buoy marking the original position of the original east cardinal beacon E5 (the turning mark) was obscured by rain.
  3. The green light on the temporary buoy was not as conspicuous as a white light, which would normally be associated with a cardinal navigation mark.
  4. Although not suffering from chronic fatigue, the pilot's performance was probably affected by the trough in his circadian rhythm associated with the hours between 0400 and 0600.
  5. The pilot's electronic chart system was placed at a significant distance from where he was standing, with its display in power saving mode at a critical moment.
  6. The bridge team did not detect the erroneous helm order as a result of:
    1. Both the master and mate were probably fatigued as a result of their hours of work during the passage through the Great Barrier Reef, which was exacerbated by the 'time of day' effect.
    2. Neither the master nor the mate were sufficiently aware of the ship's situation, at the time, to challenge the pilot's premature order for the course alteration.
    3. Insufficient attention was paid to the ship's radar display.
    4. The navigation chart in use by the ship did not show the temporary replacement of E5 cardinal beacon with a temporary starboard lateral buoy marking the southeast extremity of Middle Bank.
    5. The interpersonal tension between the master and mate effectively nullified the active participation of one qualified navigator in the bridge team.
Download Final Report
[ Download PDF: 324KB]
 
 
 
 
General details
Date: 19 July 2002 Investigation status: Completed 
 Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
Location:Moreton Bay  
State: Queensland  
Release date: 19 May 2003 Occurrence category: Incident 
Report status: Final Highest injury level: None 
 
Vessel details
Vessel: ANL Excellence 
Flag: Lib 
IMO: 9134517 
Type of Operation: Cellular container ship 
Damage to Vessel: Nil 
Departure point:Port of Brisbane, Qld
 
 
 
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Last update 19 May 2016