Friday, 6 January 2012

Grounding of Karin Schepers highlights the importance of a fully functioning BNWAS

This year sees the compliance date for cargo ships of 3,000gt and over to ensure that they have installed a type approved bridge navigational watch alarm system (BNWAS). Whilst this is yet another regulatory headache for many ship owners and managers, it is worth considering the case of the Karin Schepers to see the importance of a fully functioning BNWAS on your vessels.

Karin Schepers Grounding

Karin Schepers is a 7,852 GT, 9,340 DWT Container Ship, built in 2007, registered in Antigua & Barbuda and classed in Germanischer Lloyd. It had a crew of 12 including a master, a chief officer, a 2nd officer, 3 able bodied seamen and 2 ordinary seamen.

Karin Schepers departed Helsinki, Finland, on 20 March 2009 at 1730 bound for Teesport, England with a cargo of containers.

However, on 22 March at 0935 Karin Schepers grounded in position 55°39’44 N - 012°42’15 E, 0.9 nm north of Drogden dredged channel in the Sound. The speed when the ship grounded was 12 knots. The draft was 6.40m fore and 6.60m aft before the grounding. After the grounding the draft fore was reduced by 1.90m and the draft aft was increased by 0.80m.

At highest water in the morning of 23 March at 0820 the ship was refloated by help of a tug and towed into the Port of Copenhagen.

Causes of the Grounding

Following the grounding an accident investigation was carried out by the Danish Maritime Authority – It found that the grounding was caused be the following:

  • The chief officer was incapacitated due to intoxication.
  • The chief officer fell asleep during his watch.
  • There was no look out on the bridge.
  • The Bridge Navigational Watch Alarm System was off.
  • No crewmembers reacted on the various attempts to draw attention to the dangerous path the ship was taking.

In the report the shipping company was recommended to introduce procedures ensuring that watch keeping on the bridge always is optimal in the prevailing circumstances and conditions including the use of lookout and Bridge Navigational Watch Alarm System.

In this incident it was not the fact that there was no BNWAS that contributed to the grounding, it was that the crew were able to easily turn off the installed system, making it useless.

Protect Your Vessels - Prevent Your Crew from Turning off BNWAS

Many systems available on the market use simple key switches which make it far too easy for anyone to turn the BNWAS off, removing vital protection for the vessel.

To prevent this happening on your vessels and to deter your crew from switching the BNWAS off, Navgard™ BNWAS from Martek Marine requires a master password to switch it off and also confirms continuous operation by logging to integral SD-card. Navgard™ also logs all alarm events in real time, giving you a permanent record of bridge activity.