Exam failed

A German tanker was damaged in a collision in the River Thames during a pilot’s examination, a UK accident report has revealed.
The damage to Apollo

The damage to Apollo

The Carl Buttner-owned 24,000–dwt Apollo (built 2003) was rounding Tilburyness in the early hours of 25 July, 2013, in a strong tidal flow when it left its intended track and made contact with the quayside at the Northfleet Hope Container Terminal, the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) said.

It was fully loaded with almost 22,000 tonnes of gasoil for discharge at the Vopak terminal, West Thurrock.

One of the two pilots on board was undergoing a practical examination and, although he had the conduct of the vessel, he was not authorised to pilot a ship of Apollo’s length and draught, the report said.

“Apollo was fitted with a controllable pitch propeller, but neither pilot was aware of this before the accident,” it added.

“As Apollo rounded Tilburyness the propeller pitch was briefly set to zero, after which the vessel veered off course and made contact with the quayside.”

The vessel and the quayside both sustained significant damage as a result of the accident.

Its manager has taken action to prevent a recurrence.

And MAIB has asked the Port of London Authority, the UK Marine Pilots Association and the Port Marine Safety Code Steering Group to develop “best practice guidelines” for practical pilotage examinations.

MAIB said Tilburyness is an area with strong and complex tidal streams and there have been four accidents in the area since 2007.

It added: “The examination was not conducted in a commentary style, compromising the ability of the bridge team to communicate effectively.”

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