Monday, 22 April 2013

Oliva crash could have been avoided if the vessel had ECDIS installed

It has emerged this month that MS Oliva could have been saved using an Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS) that could have warned the crew they were about to run aground off the shore of Nightingale Island.

The 2011 crash happened on the 16th March at Spinners Point. According to the investigation the second mate drew up a passage plan for the first leg of the voyage which would take the 75,000-dwt bulker form the Brazilian port of Santos to China. Waypoints were then plotted on a paper chart and were intended to take the vessel 10 nautical miles south of the Tristan Da Cunha Islands.

On approach to the islands the second mate saw a large echo on the radar but assumed it to be “a rain cloud or an iceberg”, the report said. At around 5am the chief mate made the same mistake, identifying a large echo directly ahead as a “heavy storm cloud”. The hazard was in fact Nightingale Island. The ship, carrying a cargo of soya beans and 1,700 tonnes of fuel oil, then ran aground, causing serious implications for the islands and its inhabitants with widespread pollution and its important lobster-farming industry closing for nearly two years. The vessel would then eventually break up, and was declared a constructive total loss.
From the investigation, it is clear that an ECDIS on board would have prevented the devastating grounding in 2011. The ECDIS would have recognised their mandatory points causing an audible alarm to be sounded when the danger ahead was seen in the ships path.

With ECDIS on board the crew of 22 could have plotted the entire route on the chart, with visible clear instructions on where dangers lay. This disaster and many more could have been avoided.