Distracted watch officers led to collision, NTSB notes

An investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board has revealed that bridge guards on a bulk carrier and an offshore support vessel were unable to maintain proper watches before their ships’ collision last year near Port Fourchon, Louisiana.

The incident occurred on July 23, 2022 when the bulk carrier queen of it was heading east in the Gulf of Mexico and the offshore support vessel Thunder was heading north. Shortly before 1:15 p.m. local time, the bulbous bow of the queen of ittraveling on autopilot at 14.4 knots struck the port side of the thunderwhich was traveling at 9 knots.

The collision caused significant property damage thunder port side, resulting in flooding in one of her power rooms and three other areas.

Fortunately, no casualties or pollution were reported, but the collision caused $12.3 million in damage to both ships.

The Thunder is towed to a dock in Port Fourchon after the collision. The detail shows the damage to the rear port side of the ship. (Source: Coast Guard)

The collision occurred in favorable conditions with good visibility, daylight and fine weather. Both ships had radar and automatic identification system receivers capable of recognizing each other. However, prior to the collision, none of the officers on watch on the ships were properly on the lookout, either by visual inspection or by using the available electronic systems to avoid a collision.

Alternatively, both officers admitted that they were distracted by non-navigational tasks. The master on the thunder He was found to be using his mobile phone while the second officer was on the phone queen of it was busy with other tasks.

According to the Convention on the International Regulations for the Prevention of Collisions at Sea, every ship is required to keep a proper lookout by visual observation, hearing and any suitable means available.

The NTSB concluded that the likely cause of the collision was vehicle distraction queen of it officer due to non-navigational duties and the distraction of the thunder officer for cell phone use. As a result, both officers failed to keep a proper lookout. In addition, the thunder The officer on duty did not follow the company’s guard policy, which contributed to the accident.

“Use of cell phones and other personal electronic devices has been shown to lead to visual, manual and cognitive distraction,” the report states. “The inoperable use of cell phones and other wireless electronic devices by duty crew members in safety-critical positions has been a factor in accidents in all modes of transportation. Off-site use of cell phones should never interfere with a watchman’s or bridge team member’s primary duty of keeping a proper lookout. It is important that staff follow established protocols on mobile phone use.”

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