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Cismaru Vlad Case Study

Chapter V
Study case regarding a dangerous ship’s situation onto route
Liverpool- Casablanca
5.1 Summary
On 13 February, 2002 at 15:30, the container vessel Svendborg Maersk got under way from
Liverpool to the port of destination Casablanca, Morocco. The captain expected to have bad weather
conditions on the mentioned route, but the weather programs and forecast warnings did not cause
any concern.

The next day, as the ship just left the Outer English Channel the weather conditions started to
deteriorate. In the afternoon, the ship suddenly and without any warning, started to experience a
violent rolling to extreme angles. This rolling is also known as parametric rolling. Following this, an
important number of containers went overboard.

Early in the same evening, the ship began again to be influenced by a unexpectedly
distructive rolling, reaching an extreme angle of roll of 41̊ to port. For the second time, a large
number of containers were lost overboard and the master considered that the situation is no longer
under control and can threaten the safety of the ship. As a response to this fact, the captain sounded
the general alarm to muster the crew members. Later in the evening, he concluded that the weather
calm down and will no longer pose as an immediate danger to the ship.

After few days of sailing, Svendborg Maersk proceeded towards Malaga, Spain, for dry
docking. The ship had to be repaired and the damaged containers removed from the vessel. The ship
berthed on 17 February 2014.

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5.2 Factual information

Table 5.1 “Ship’s particulars’’

Name of the vessel SVENDBORG MAERSK


Type of vessel Container ship (fully cellular)
Flag Denmark
Port of registry Svendborg
IMO number 9146467
Call sign OZSK2
DOC company A.P. Moller-Maersk
IMO company no. 0309317
Year built 1998
Shipyard Odense Staalskibsvaerft
Classification society American Bureau of Shipping
Length overall 346.980 m
Breadth overall 42.8 m
Gross tonnage 92.198 t
Deadweight 110,387 t
Max. Draught 14.941 m
Engine rating 54.835 kW
Service speed 25.0 knots
Hull material Steel
Hull design Single hull

Table 5.2 “Voyage particulars”

Port of departure Liverpool, United Kingdom


Port of call Casablanca, Morocco
Type of voyage Merchant shipping, international
Cargo information General cargo in containers

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Figure 5.1 “Svendborg Maersk after departure from Liverpool” (Source: Frans
Sanderse/Shipspotting)

Table 5.3 “Weather data”

Wind Southwest -25 m/s and gusts up to 33 m/s


Wave height 10 m and above
Visibility 0.5 nm
Light/Dark Light
Current Unknown

Table 5.4 “Marine casualty or incident information”

Type of marine incident Loss of cargo


IMO classification Serious casualty
Date, time 14 February 2014 at 18:13 UTC

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Cismaru Vlad Case Study

Location Svendborg
IMO number Atlantic Ocean, off Ushant Islands
Place onboard Cargo deck
Human factor data Yes
Ship’s operation In transit
Consequences 517 containers lost overboard and another 250
damaged. Damage to and loss of equipment
stowed on deck and minor damage to the ship’s
structure. No lost containers contained
dangerous goods.

Table 5.5 “Key persons”

Master Certificate of competency as master STCW-II/2.


57 years old. Has served onboard since signing
on 17 January 2014. Has previously served
onboard the sister ship Svend Maersk. Employed
by the company since 1999. Total time at sea is
42 years.

Chief Officer Certificate of competency as master STCW-II/2.


40 years old. Has served onboard for approx. one
year. Employed by the company since 2002.
Total time at sea 13 years.

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Figure 5.2 ‘‘Scene of the incidents” (Source: www.ukho.gvo.uk)

5.3 Sequence of events


On 13 February 2014, the vessel Svendborg Maersk was berthed at Liverpool North
Container Terminal, loading and discharging cargo. In the same time, the ship was supplied with
bunker and food stores. After the cargo operation has been completed, around 1530 hours, the vessel
departed with the destination port Casablanca, Morocco. Taking into consideration the voyage plan,
the ship would arrive on 18 February 1730 local time, requiring an average speed of 18.6 knots.
Before the departure, the captain consulted the meteorological warnings and weather forecast
and he concluded that there existed a risk that the vessel would meet strong winds and high seas
during the passage. Therefore, the vessel’s crew was informed to arrange the ship for a bad weather
situation. The container securing were checked once again and where it was possible physically, to
ensure that all cargo was properly assured after the cargo operation ended. After the inspections
were ended, as a common procedure, a note was written in the gangway logbook.

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At 1500 hours, the pilot arrived onboard and the ship unberthed from Liverpool at 1530,
assisted by two tug boats. Once underway, the crew members stored and secured the ropes,
preparing the maneuvering station for sea passage.
The next morning, on 14 February 2014, the ship reached the southern part of the English
Channel and around noon the weather conditions started to become worse.
At approximately 1420, the weather conditions continue to deteriorate and the master went
on bridge to assist second officer in steering the ship. The captain minimized the speed through
water to almost 11 knots. The ship’s heading was changed from 240̊ to 210̊ for having the
predominant wind and sea direction straight on the bow to reduce the rolling of the ship.
At 1520, the first mate came on navigational bridge for taking over the watch and
substituted the second officer. In the time chief officer’s watch, the captain usually came on the
bridge to assess the situation. At that time, other crew members including deck cadet came on
bridge, for observing the deterioration of weather situation.
At 1545, the vessel acknowledged a storm warning by Inmarsat forecasting a destructive
storm, force 10 until 2130 hours for the area where the ship was navigating. The rolling of the vessel
slowly became tougher, and the captain reduced the ship’s speed until 2 knots.
At 1643 hours, the ship being in position, Latitude: 48̊ 46’.2 N Longitude: 005̊ 59’.1 W
(Figure 5.2), unexpectedly and with no warning started to toll to an extreme angle. Eight to ten
times the vessel rolled violently, three to four times to each side, having an angle of 36 ̊ to starboard,
before the ship once again resumed the more moderate moving that has felt prior to the severe
rolling. The captain took over the watch, being helped by the first mate. During the big storm, the
ship’s personnel on the bridge observed that a big number of containers were thrown in the water
from the first bay near the forward accommodation and also from the bay from the aft part of the
ship.
Immediately after the extreme rolling, the vessel traffic services C.R.O.S.S. Corsen (Ushant
Traffic) was contacted by VHF radio, for transmitting the information, that a large number of
containers were lost. A precise counting of the number of containers couldn’t be possible to make,
due to the danger shall had to send crew members on deck during the hard weather conditions. An
uncertain number of the estimated lost cargo was given to the coast station, for broadcasting a
navigational message in order to inform the shipping traffic in the area of the potential hazard
imposed by the cargo from the water. Moreover, information about a point of contact with the ship
owner was given upon the request from Ushant Traffic Service.
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As a development of the unexpected weather, three out of four steering pumps went down.
Their ability was quickly made available, and an sailor was designated to vessel the steer manually,
by the conn. An extra auxiliary engine was started by the second engineer, to give backup and
reduce the hazard of a blackout in the event that one would went down because to the very violent
moves of the vessel.
After the tough rolling, the captain and chief officer agreed that a two shift watch program
will be implemented, until the weather conditions will be stabilized. The watch consisted of the
master, assisted by the third officer and the chief officer assisted by the second officer. Despite this,
as the weather conditions became better very fast, this scheme was never implemented.
After that, the master tried several times to contact the company by the Iridium satellite
telephone, but without success. The second officer continued to call the provided numbers and in the
end, a company representative was informed about the situation onboard.
At 1913, in position Latitude: 48̊ 32’.3 N and Longitude: 006̊ 08’.1 W (Figure 5.2), the ship
started again to roll heavily, reaching a maximum level of 41 ̊ to port side. A large number of
containers from the deck hatch covers were again lost overboard. The speed through water was
increased moderately to 4-5 knots, for assuring effective steering and to mitigate the parametric
rolling resonance, as this was suspected to be the principal cause of the increased rolling.
Furthermore, the radio coast station was informed again about the lost containers.
Following this new incident, the master started to be concern not only about the lost cargo
but also about the seaworthiness of the ship and the safety of the crew. Following this, the general
alarm was sounded, indicating by the public address system that the chief officer should come on the
bridge. Chief officer took the crew and muster list and went on the bridge. Master instructed chief
officer, that all the crew should muster to the respective muster station, for stating and clarifying,
that all the crew members are safe onboard.
The chief officer left the bridge and went down, to the ship’s control center on deck A, for
counting the crew members. The crew members had mustered there, and had brought the immersion
suits. The chief engineer, second engineer and electrician had mustered in the engine control room.
Later in the evening, as the weather conditions improved slightly, the master took the
decision to cancel the abandon and the crew members left the muster station.
On 15 February 2014, the weather started slowly to improve, the crew members began to
clean up the vessel. The chief officer carried out an estimated stability calculation to state if the
stability conditions were still favorable, taking into consideration the big amount of the containers
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lost overboard. As a result, the ship had obtained an increased forward trim as a result of the large
amount of lost containers from the aft part of the deck.
After everything almost came back to normal, a preliminary assessment was carried out
onboard, in order to send a precise report to the company. The master received the instruction to
proceed to Malaga, Spain, for repair of the minor damages to the ship and removal of the damaged
containers which remained onboard.
At 1715 hours on 17 February 2014, the ship arrived alongside in Malaga. After berthing, a
debriefing was carried out, in which it was implied a psychologist arrived onboard for offering help
to the crew members. One crew member was sent to the local hospital due to the bruises which he
gained on limbs, origination from the incident. Also, four crew members requested to sign off at
their own wish.
The final assessment of the damages and the loss of cargo were carried out in Malaga.

Figure 5.3”Svendborg Maersk, aft deck at arrival Malaga” (Source: www.maersk.com)


5.4 Weather forecast
For obtaining an accurate weather forecast, Svendborg Maersk used a program called Ship
Performance Optimization System (SPOS). Master and second officer usually studied the
information provided both prior departure and during the voyage, latest updates being always
received. Furthermore, weather information and maritime safety information were also received by
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Navtex and Enhanced Group Call (EGC). Before and during this voyage, the SPOS was set for
receiving weather updates four times per day.
The SPOS weather forecasting program was offering the captain information about predicted
barometer pressure, wind force, wind direction and sea state. The development and movement of the
weather were graphically displayed on the bridge computer, for obtaining an overview of the
expected sea and weather conditions regarding the planned voyage.
During the accident investigation, the Danish Maritime Investigation Board has requested
the provider of meteorological data to the SPOS application, Meteor Group, a report which can
describe what information was available to the captain prior to the departure from Liverpool. This
report consisted in information provided by Meteor Group on 13 February 2014 at 0000 UTC and
1200 UTC.
The sea state presented in the report as well as in the SPOS program was the significant
wave height consisting of a total of swell and sea . In Figure 5.4 and Figure 5.5 are represented the
sea state during the two observations.
The report data largely substantiated the master’s conception of the weather state on the
forthcoming voyage, prior to departure from Liverpool, on the day before incidents took place.
Based on the captain’s experience with heavy weather, and the ship type, the forecasted weather
didn’t impose a threat for him. They were not unusual for the respective zone at that time of the
year.
Moreover, the ship’s crew members effectuated weather observations on 14 February 2014,
and these were entered into the log book. At 1400 hours the wind was observed to have the
direction south westerly blowing at force 10 in the Beaufort scale and the respective sea state was 9
on the Beaufort scale. At 1800 the wind was observed to be at a direction south westerly force 10
and the sea state had increased to 10. At 2200 the wind was observed to be at a direction south
westerly force 12 and the sea state 10.

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Figure 5.4 “SPOS weather forecast for 13 February 2014 at 1200 UTC showing swell height”
(Source: Svendborg Maersk accident report)

Figure 5.5 “SPOS weather forecast for 13 February 2014 at 0000 UTC showing swell height”
(Source: Svendborg Maersk accident report)
Furthermore, subsequent to the incidents weather observations were obtained and analyzed
by meteorological sources:
Excerpt from “Weather and ocean conditions report of Danish Meteorological Institute”:
“Conditions in the Bay of Biscay February 14th 2014: At 000 UTC a storm low located west
of the Bay of Biscay was moving towards northeast, with an associated significant wave field of 10m
or more, covering an area from outer English Channel towards north-east and northern parts of
Bay of Biscay. This coincides with Svendborg Maersk exiting the English Channel and meeting the
heavy weather just after. A wave rider positioned at lat. 47-30 N / long. 008-24 W measured a peak
in significant wave of 13.40 m at the measurement time 1500 UTC.”

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5.5 Parametric roll resonance


Parametric rolling resonance represents a phenomenon which amplifies the rolling motion of
the ship, which can lead to a dangerous situation. This phenomenon happens as the ship’s stability is
changed frequently when the ship’s speed enables a wave encounter frequency of approximate twice
the ship’s natural rolling frequency. The damping of the ship may not be sufficient to eliminate the
parametric roll energy and avoid a resonant condition. For stating the level of the ship’s susceptible
to parametric roll resonance, the design parameters along with the environment which ship
encounters must be taken into consideration.
The same action happens, as the bow goes down in the next wave cycle resulting in
synchronous motion which can reach a heavy rolling of 30 degrees. Mainly, this is the basic
definition of parametric rolling.
Regarding Svendborg Maersk’s Ship Management System, there it was clearly stated that the
master should always avoid parametric rolling, which is described as: encounter frequency (Te) =
rolling period (Tn) /2. The operational guidance is describe as follows:
1. Determine Te (encounter frequency) and Tn (rolling period)
2. If Te = Tn / 2, the speed has to be reduced further, while ensuring the maneuvering speed.
The encounter frequency can be determined by measuring the ship’s pitch period with a stop
watch, or by application of information of the actual wave data. The expected encounter frequency
and rolling period can be determined:

𝛾 ∗3600 2 ∗𝐶 ∗𝐵
𝑇𝑒 = (𝑉𝑏−𝑉𝑠 ∗𝑐𝑜𝑠𝑥)∗1852
𝑇𝑛 = C = 0.373 + 0.023 * B/d – 0.043 * L /100
√𝐺𝑀

Where:γ = wave lenght; Vb = wave speed; Vs = ship’s speed, x = angle between the ship’s course
and the wave’s direction of propagation, B = breadth, d= draught, GM= metacenter height, L=
length between perpendiculars.

5.6 Conclusions
The accident took place when Svendborg Maersk, on two different times, has met
extremities in adverse weather situation in the northern part of the Bay of Biscay. This two
extremities provoked heavy rolling of the vessel which led to the loss of 517 cargo containers and

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damaged approximately other 250 containers. A large number of factors coincided and caused the
incidents and subsequent consequences.

Before commencing the voyage, a weather report was received on the onboard weather
program (SPOS), and the ship’s crew prepared themselves in advance for any unusual situation.
Despite this, the extreme fusion of dynamic forces encountered by the vessel was not expected by
any of the crew or master. It was almost impossible, beforehand, by all the means available, to
obtain a complete overview of the exact weather and wave situation encountered by the ship during
incidents, including the ship’s motion behavior which includes a lot of variables.

The decision taken by the master before the incidents was mainly based on his personal
experience on the dangerous weather navigational situations and the ship he was commanding.
Taking this decision was really challenging during unexpected dynamic conditions with limited
information at hand, and also a restricted help regarding company’s SMS (Safety Management
System) procedures, which were automatically had a deviance in work and how work must be
carried out. The quality of the master’s decisions would therefore only be visible afterwards, when
the outcome was known.

Regarding the shipping company, after the incident was produced, a number of initiatives
had been initiated. The new measures were consisting in an increase cargo capacity onboard which
will modify the ship’s stability, for a safer operation in adverse weather conditions. Also, for a new
training course for bad weather was introduced for all deck officers. However, Svendbordg Maersk
had never been designed or configured of operation in extreme weather as those encountered on the
date of incidents.

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