Monday, 28 January 2008

Anatomy of a grounding

Wonder how they managed this...

An unfortunate accident happened when the Captain (not me) sailed onto an uncharted reef. We might consider us lucky because another 6m to port and we would have been sliced open like a can of sardines.

It might be added that several ships hit reefs in the Maldives every year but it is not largely shouted about. 

Prudent Captains prefer to exit any atoll to deep waters and then re-enter it again (instead of sailing shortest route A to B inside the atoll), thus minimizing the risk of hitting an uncharted reef. Below is the initial report that was sent to the office and entered in the log book.


At 27th January 2008 on voyage from Vakkaru Island to Kunfunadhoo Island vessel hit an uncharted reef enroute. At the time of impact weather and visibility was good with partly overcast skies, wind was N’ly 1-2 beaufort.

Chain of events
1240 Anchor hoisted into pocket and secured, voyage commenced under Master’s command, passengers and crew: 7/16, mean draft 2.5m;
1253 ship was on course 117º and speed 16kts, when suddenly a double impact was felt at φ=05º 08.1’ N, λ=072º 57.9’ E, ME’s clutched out, water tight doors closed;
1254 GA sounded, crew and passengers mustered on muster station with lifejackets, C/O, AB’s and Engineers started sounding of void spaces and tanks.
1300 Hull confirmed not leaking, no pollution resulted from the grounding. AB’s donned snorkeling gear and checking hull on outside, confirmed both port side stabilizer fins damaged with minor indents in hull resulting from impact of fin into hull;
1305 Emergency called off for crew and passengers;
1320 All crew out of the water, stabilisers centered from bridge;
1330 Continued voyage to Kunfunadhoo Island with continuous watch at stabilizer voids, no leaks detected;
1339 Owner informed by telephone;
1346 DPA informed, by telephone;
1420 Let go anchor at Kunfunadhoo Is, finished with engines.

Ships tender surveyed area of impact and it was discovered that ship had hit an uncharted reef max area 15 x 30 m, with a 2 m2 coral pillar rising to a depth of approximately 1,5 m at the edge of the reef. Rest of the reef has an average depth of 2.5-3.5m. Coral stone debris from the collision was seen scattered at the area.

Subsequent action
After anchoring at Kunfunadhoo following was done:
  • AB’s & Master surveyed both stabilizers more thoroughly with scuba gear. Fwd fin bent close to 90º, beyond repair, it can be deduced that most of impact energy was absorbed here. Aft fin damaged ;
  • C/E locked both fins with bolts into center position and turned off pumps;
  • Reef depth survey report will be prepared and sent to British Admiralty chart department for use in chart corrections.
All information above believed to be correct to the best of my knowledge.

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