MAIB Report on contact and grounding of bulk carrier AMBER, River Thames, 15 November 2012

Please find attached MAIB report on the investigation into the grounding of bulk carrier AMBER at Gravesend Reach, River Thames on 15 November 2012.

A routine unmooring operation, albeit in poor visibility, became something of a manoeuvring cake and arse party and resulting in contact with moored barges and grounding. It is easy for those of use behind a desk to be smart, but there are clear lessons to be learned from this. Fortuitously, there was no injury or serious damage. 

There is a whiff of commercial pressure - albeit unproven and my opinion only - that all parties seemed to be aware and voicing their understanding that the power station was close to running on fumes, which may have influenced sailing in poor visibility. Add poor bridge organisation - one of the bridge team still fiddling with radar settings as they were letting go – to a general lack of situational awareness, and this went from picnic to panic in just nine minutes. In the large yacht business, we are rarely blessed with pilots and tugs, but it is essential that when they are engaged, a proper pre-departure briefing takes place. I recently spoke to a senior pilot in a commercial port who lamented that such briefings usually only take place when an ISM auditor is on board. Pilots are professional people and will engage professionally.

For those on board Watkins' managed boats, please ensure that all crewmembers involved in bridge manning are given an opportunity to read this and confirm so in your next HESS meeting minutes. I can be contacted at any time if anyone has any questions.