Stories on Maritime Leadership

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Collision by design

Yes, the sequence of events leading to a ship-collision started on the computer on which the ship was designed.colbydes

The car-carrier City of Rotterdam is a cool looking ship. It resembles a floating jumbo jet and can carry 2000 cars. I guess people waving at the ship from the shore love its lines. But it appears, not so the navigators and pilots. The unconventional circular layout of the wheelhouse windows can lead to a navigator to be disoriented. And this is precisely what happened on 3rd December 2015 when this ship collided with the ro-ro ferry Primula Seaways. Thankfully there were no injuries but the costs to return the ships to service was a few million dollars- each!





The City of Rotterdam was to pass the inbound ferry but had strayed well off its course. Passing distances in the narrow River Humber are small and have little margin for error. But the Pilot failed to spot the dangerous drift of his own ship as he was disoriented.

The Pilot was under the illusion that his view from the window was the direction of the ship’s travel. It was not- he was at the starboard VHF radio, which was 33° off the vessel’s centreline axis. Neither were there visual clues such as a forward mast to help the Pilot identify where the ship’s head was. 


No doubt, there were more errors at the front-line- both by the Pilot and the passive bridge team. But that’s for another discussion.

The MAIB asked all people involved to consider the existing ergonomic principles in ship design, and to make some compensatory arrangements for this unique ship design.

Have you come across designs which are seafarer unfriendly? What would you wish to change?

Do you evaluate the effects of your intended changes on all stakeholders? Or are you dragging your feet on changes that you should be making?

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