Search Our Library

Lessons learned: Self-induced fatigue contributes to grounding

Lessons learned: Self-induced fatigue contributes to groundingLessons learned: Self-induced fatigue contributes to grounding

The Nautical Institute has issued Mars Report No 51/2014 regarding fatigue and how it can contibute in grounding.

During the morning it was found that maintenance work would not be complete until approximately 1600. The Master set the vessel's departure time to midnight that same day. The maintenance work was completed by 1600 and the Master elected to stay on board to allow the OOW to go ashore, which he did around 1800. While ashore, the OOW had a few pints of beer then went for a walk, returning to the vessel at about 2045 and turning in to bed at about 2115. The mate had also been ashore and had four or five pints of beer before returning to the vessel at about 2130 and turning in for rest. By 2230 the Master and crew were up and about doing their normal pre departure routines. At about 2350, the vessel sailed with the mate on the helm and the Master having the con.

At about 0015, the OOW arrived on the bridge and took the con of the vessel from the Master. The mate was still on the bridge when the OOW arrived, but left the bridge about five minutes later. The OOW maintained the vessel on its designated track, regularly plotting the vessel's position on the chart. At 0350, as the OOW altered course off a prominent point, he called the mate for the 0400-0800 watch. The mate arrived on the bridge at about 0403 and after reading and signing the Master's night orders, took over the watch. At about 0408 a course alteration to about 253 degrees was performed. At about 0506 the vessel grounded while still on a heading of 253 degrees.

During the course of the investigation, the mate was adamant that he had not fallen asleep after altering the vessel's course to 253 degrees. Yet, the sequence of events show this as a strong possibility. If not asleep, he must have been doing something other than monitoring the progress of the vessel.

Research has shown that even consuming a small amount of alcohol prior to sleep can affect the quality of sleep leading to daytime fatigue and sleepiness. The mate had only had 3.5 hours' sleep in the previous 21 hours by the time he went on watch at 0400. The mate did not take enough of the ample opportunity he had to rest before being required for watchkeeping duties.

 Source and Image Credit: The Nautical Institute/ Mars Report

 The Mariners' Alerting and Reporting Scheme (MARS) is primarily a confidential reporting system run by The Nautical Institute to allow full reporting of accidents (and near misses) without fear of identification or litigation.

As a free service to the industry, MARS reports also regularly comprise alerts condensed from official industry sources, so that issues resulting from recent incidents can be efficiently relayed to the mariner on board.

With access to the internet from vessels becoming more affordable, the MARS database is a valuable risk assessment, work planning, loss prevention tool and training aid for crew and management.

MARS reports are held in a publicly-accessible database and can be accessed by clicking on the link below:

Search MARS Reports

Contact the Editor of MARS at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Above Mars Report is edited from official report 10-202 of the New Zealand Transport Accident Investigation Commission