TT Talk - Ship berthing incidents

It is perhaps surprisingly common for things to go wrong in the processes around berthing ships, particularly in terms of manoeuvring in the port area and mooring. Aimed at the ship/port interface, read on to understand TT Club’s experience and ways to mitigate the risks.

The operations involved in berthing ships are highly dependent on human interaction and many incidents have their root cause in this fact. When things go wrong, damage may result to the ship itself, the berth and quay cranes, and there is potential for pollution to occur and, perhaps of greater concern, injuries to crew and shoreside personnel can also result.

The two key areas of heightened risk are ship manoeuvring in the port and the process of mooring; the former exposes the ship to collisions and allisions while the latter primarily results in injuries or fatalities to crew or mooring line personnel.

In most locations, berthing involves the combined efforts of the pilot and the master to achieve safe berthing of a ship. Inevitably, good communications and mutual understanding of each other’s roles are critical for the safe conduct of the ship in pilotage waters, essentially integrating the pilot into the bridge management team. The pilot’s primary duty is to provide accurate information to ensure safe navigation, while the master retains ultimate responsibility for the safety of the ship. Issues have proven most likely to arise where the master is new to the port and/or the pilot has not previously experie....

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