Report pegs Ennore oil spill at 251 tonnes

Initial ship estimate of 2 tonnes led to delay in proper response; both ships at fault for collision

November 09, 2017 12:42 am | Updated 07:23 am IST - CHENNAI

 Coast Guard personnel and volunteers involved in the clean-up operations on the oil spill at Ernavur in Chennai on February 9, 2017.

Coast Guard personnel and volunteers involved in the clean-up operations on the oil spill at Ernavur in Chennai on February 9, 2017.

The final quantity of oil spill from the collision of two ships at Ennore in January has been pegged at 251.46 tonnes. The two ships involved in the accident, Dawn Kanchipuram and BW Maple, have been held responsible for the accident on various counts, according to a investigation report by the Directorate General of Shipping.

The report added that since the Dawn Kancheepuram crew had initially estimated only two tonnes of oil leakage, they had conveyed the same to other parties, who considered it to be a small spill and “deployed their oil spill combat resources accordingly and not to their maximum capacity.”

Primary among the causes of the collision were human error and fatigue among the crew of BW Maple , with the rest hours of the crew at “near violation” the previous day before the accident, leading to them losing situational awareness. Dawn Kanchipuram too has been held responsible for inconsistent, interrupted actions, failing to contain the oil spill and for being unable ‘to identify all fuel oil tanks’ damage.’

Human causes

An investigation team led by Capt. Ranjit Muduli, deputy nautical adviser, found the bridge teams on both vessels inadequate and the master of the Dawn Kanchipuram lacked assertiveness. “Despite being worried by the actions of BW Maple , he did not challenge the pilot or exercise his overriding authority”.

“Neither the helmsman on BW Maple nor the lookout man raise any alert with the master or the duty officer about the presence of another vessel ahead at such close range,” the investigation team reported.

According to the report, both the ships failed to maintain a dedicated sole visual lookout.

“No alert was raised by the vessel to draw attention of BW Maple ; neither was any other communication initiated between the two vessels at this instant despite being in close quarters. The pilot (of Dawn Kanchipuram ) also had stopped the vessel in between which caused loss of thrust on the rudder, before again increasing to full (speed) ahead,” the report said.

The report further added that both vessels did not consider the option of using anchors to prevent the collision. The investigating team submitted that the staff of Dawn Kanchipuram , while identifying oil leakage, “grossly underestimated the amount of oil that had escaped the vessel. They also did not initiate effective procedures to contain oil escaping to the sea,” the report said.

The team submitted that during interviews of the officers and crew on board the BW Maple , their competency was found to be inadequate. “The 2nd officer showed lack of familiarisation in basic manoeuvring characteristics of the vessel,” the report said. The team also found that the master of the BW Maple was psychologically stressed, which may have adversely affected his decision-making ability. He had also put the 2nd officer in charge and had stopped being an effective part of the bridge team, the report said.

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