Helge’s first officer found guilty for the collision with a vessel

According to the Dutch Maritime Disciplinary Court, the first officer of the Helge was at fault for the collision with Wild Cosmos, on 9th September, 2022. The vessel was soon towed to the Port of Esbjerg in a salvage operation.

As informed, the first officer had a major failure to perform. Therefore, the collision and all of its effects could not have been avoided. Fortunately, no one suffered a major personal injury.

The First Officer, who resigned from his position since the incident, had his licence suspended by the court. In addition, the court reduced the length of the suspension from that originally requested by the inspector in the case due to his cooperation with the inspectors and his understanding of the error made.

The incident 

The Helge was sailing at eight knots on the morning of September 9, 2022, from Antwerp to Heroya in Norway. There was a rough sea and a moderate surge due to the easterly breeze. It was raining and gloomy, but visibility was good.

At 05:20, it was hit starboard aft by Wild Cosmos, which was sailing at around 17 knots. This collision caused leaks and flooding in the ballast water tanks 3 SB, 4 SB, and the engine room of Helge. The ship listed to the right and the back of the ship dipped lower into the water. The collision also caused a blackout on the ship, leaving it NUC (Not Under Command).

As explained, the Wild Cosmos failed to keep a safe distance, and the previous lookout and Second Officer did not give a warning of an overtaking vessel. Although he was unable to prevent the collision, he did not act without due care.

It goes without saying that the Wild Cosmos (not sailing under the Dutch flag), the approaching ship, should have given a wide berth to the Helge. However, as the first officer on duty aboard the Helge, the person concerned also played a role in the collision occurring.

As a result of this collision, the Disciplinary Court notes that special attention for shipping vessels approaching from behind is important when sailing at relatively low speed in a busy navigation area. It is thereby recommended that the radar be set to “radar centre” (and not to “radar off centre”), in order to maintain good visibility behind the vessel.


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