USCG identifies pilot distraction in grounding casualty


The United States Coast Guard has published its investigation report into the grounding of EVER FORWARD, highlighting the dangers of distractions when navigating.

The container ship grounded in the Craighill Channel near Baltimore, Maryland on 13 March 2022. The USCG investigation determined the incident’s causal factors to be the pilot’s failure to maintain situational awareness and attention while navigating, and inadequate bridge resource management.

The investigation found that for approximately half of the two-hour transit, the pilot placed and received numerous calls, texted messages, and draft emails on their personal cell phone right up until the incident.
Additionally, the pilot relied solely on their Portable Pilot Unit (PPU) for navigation and was watching playback of a previous transit at the time of the incident.
The pilot was drafting an email on their personal cell phone in the minutes leading up to the planned turn south, when the vessel sailed through its waypoint and grounded. The vessel’s bridge team attempted to cue the pilot by repeating the heading. However, by the time the bridge team became more assertive about the ship’s heading, it was too late to prevent the vessel from grounding.

Restrictions and Red Zones
This isn’t the first incident where concerns have been raised on the inappropriate use of mobile devices and communications on the bridge during passages where a heightened level of attention is required.

As we reported back in 2017 in our article here, the routine restricting of mobile phones in pilotage and restricted waters and the use of RED ZONES is encouraged.

Master-Pilot Exchange (MPX)
IMO Resolution A.960 reminds us that: “Efficient pilotage depends, among other things, upon the effectiveness of the communications and information exchanges between the Pilot, the Master and the bridge personnel and upon the mutual understanding each has for the functions and duties of the other.”

Yet incidents continue to occur that commonly stem from a breakdown in the relationship between the bridge team and pilot or where the Master appears to relinquish control to the pilot or fails to challenge a potentially unsafe instruction.
Source: North of England P&I Club



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