Inquiry: Ship crews need a common language

By Abby Gillies

Carrier vessel Hanjin Bombay. Photo / File / Chris Callinan
Carrier vessel Hanjin Bombay. Photo / File / Chris Callinan

Ship crews must decide on an agreed common language to avoid lapsing into their native tongue during an emergency, says an inquiry into the grounding of a vessel in Tauranga.

The report released by The Transport Accident Investigation Commission into the incident involving carrier vessel Hanjin Bombay in 2010 said several key lessons must be learnt from the incident.

One of those was the use of a common language at all times for crews to avoid confusion as lapsing into their native tongues could "seriously hinder any response to deal with the emergency", said the report.

Other recommendations included crews having thorough knowledge of their vessel's operating systems, common understanding of the voyage plan and good communication between bridge and engine room.

On 21 June, 2010, bulk carrier Hanjin Bombay left the wharf at Mount Maunganui loaded with a full cargo of logs for the port of Kunsan in Korea.

It turned in the channel using the main engine and two tugs which remained with the ship until it was about to enter the narrow entrance channel, at which point they were released to return to their berths.

However, a malfunctioning valve caused the engine cooling water to rise above normal temperature.

The engine room crew did not alert the bridge to the problem, but instead attempted to fix the problem.

As the vessel's engine shut down, the stuck rudder grounded on the eastern shore of Cutter Channel.

The commission found the grounding could have been prevented through better knowledge of the engine systems, better communication between the bridge and engine room crew, and if the bridge crew had informed the harbour pilot of the escalating problem.

It made several recommendations about safety and communication procedures onboard vessels.

The report also suggested a national system for tug escorts was developed to allow port authority staff access to new and previous information on vessel and crew performance in the interests of preventing similar incidents.

- APNZ

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