Ever Given’s report highlights the role of Suez Canal pilots in the landing Ship’s crew

The operating ban in March 2021 Always given marked a critical moment for the maritime shipping industry. The shutdown came just before the start of the pandemic-triggered boom cycle and put the industry in the global spotlight as about 12% of world trade came to an abrupt halt, not to mention the publication of what appeared to be millions of memes online.

Now, more than two years later, the Panama Maritime Authority acts as the authority Ever Given’s The flag state has submitted its accident report to the International Maritime Organization, finally shedding light on the cause of what is arguably the most famous stranding in the modern shipping industry.

The Suez Canal is a 193-kilometer artificial waterway that connects the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea and is a crucial shortcut for international maritime trade. It is owned and managed by the Suez Canal Authority, an Egyptian government agency.

As for that Always givenIt is a huge container ship with a length of 400 meters that can transport up to 20,000 20-foot containers (TEUs).

Before her fateful journey on March 23, 2021, the Always given was anchored south of the canal and awaited passage. The wind began to increase, reaching gusts of 35 knots at one point and causing the ship to drop anchor. The captain then weighed anchor and informed port control that the ship intended to proceed to a safer location outside the Suez Canal holding area. However, the port control instructed this Always given to hold the position, according to the report, since a convoy was starting and a pilot was on his way to the ship.

About ninety minutes after the first pilot boarded, two more Suez Canal pilots joined the crew Always given began its transit. It entered the Suez Canal without issue, becoming the fifth ship in a northbound convoy. However, when the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) pilots changed, the wind speed increased and visibility reduced due to the blown up sand.

The two pilots found it difficult to keep the ship centered in the channel and ordered the speed to be increased for easier steering. However, the ship began to turn to starboard. Despite efforts to correct course, the Always given continued to turn and eventually ran aground on the east bank of the canal.

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The container ship Ever Given is pictured in the Suez Canal in the Suez Canal in this satellite image dated March 27, 2021 by Maxar Technologies. Satellite image ©2021 Maxar Technologies/Handout via REUTERS

The ship became firmly wedged in the waterway, bow and stern got stuck in the canal bank. First, the Suez Canal Authority attempted to refloat the ship using canal tugs and the now-famous dredger to dig out the bow. However, these attempts were unsuccessful. The Suez Canal was blocked.

As the reserve grew to more than 400 ships, frantic efforts were made to refloat the ship. The Suez Canal remained blocked for six days before being unblocked on March 29, 2021.

The report found that a combination of factors contributed to the grounding.

First, the VTMS (Vessel Traffic Management System), the SCA pilots and the ship’s captain failed to adequately assess the risk of adverse weather conditions, including strong winds and reduced visibility. The ship took no preventive action against such conditions, including requesting tug assistance or postponing passage. The non-use of traffickers in the restricted area contributed to the incident, the report said.

The report was extremely critical of the SCA pilots’ navigation decisions. According to the report, they failed to take bad weather conditions into account, gave the helmsman incorrect instructions and did not communicate effectively with the bridge team due to language difficulties. The report emphasizes the importance of careful pilot management and integration with the bridge team to reduce risk, and highlights ineffective communication between pilots Ever Given’s Bridge team and the pilots. Discussions in Arabic between the pilots made it difficult for the rest of the bridge team to understand the pilot’s concerns and possible dangers.

“Language difficulties can also contribute to pilot-related issues and these should be taken into account. In the case of M/V EVER GIVEN, although the pilots’ orders were given in English, the discussion between them was always in Arabic, so the bridge team could not properly understand the concerns of the pilots (if any) and the potential dangers to carry out the risk assessment in a timely and effective manner.”

The ship was also traveling at a speed of 12-13 knots, which is above the maximum permitted speed of 8.64 knots for ships in the Suez Canal.

According to the report, the interventions of the captain and the instructions to the helmsman could not have prevented the grounding. According to Suez Canal regulations, the captain has supreme command of the ship, while the pilots have only an advisory role and do not issue orders unless authorized by the captain. In this case, however, the master was not actively involved in steering the ship.

The effects of squat (reduction of ship’s draft due to confined water) and bank (interaction between ship’s hull and canal bank) also influenced the loss of manoeuvrability.

The Panama Maritime Authority made several recommendations in its report, including crew training, clear communication during pilotage, evaluation of the pilot’s actions, and attention to transit.

The report also recommends additional internal audits for operators and managers, special training courses for Suez Canal transit and training campaigns for the bridge team. The Suez Canal Authority is recommended to review its procedures and regulations, train pilots to maneuver larger ships, introduce English as a working language and implement a system of alert notifications and contingency planning procedures.

The grounding of Always given had a significant impact on world trade and drew attention to the maritime shipping industry. With the accident report finally shedding light on the various factors that contributed to the grounding and providing recommendations to reduce the risk of future incidents, it remains to be seen how the industry will respond and what changes will be made to prevent similar accidents from happening in the United States of the USA happen future.

As always, we encourage you to read the full report here.

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