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Hockham Admiral

Cruise disaster

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Not a lot of point in speculating really, could have been any one of a number of errors, or no error at all, some charts were sounded many years ago and are not infalable and new hazards are being discovered all the time, all will be revealed in due course I'm sure.

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I find it hard to believe that such a huge, modern ship could go aground as a result of gear failure.

My understanding of these massive craft is that they have independent GPS systems at bow and stern so they can automatically plot the orientation of the vessel and it's precise proximity to charted hazards at each end. ( I vaguely remember Rod mentioning something about it as well on one of the photo "what's this" posts).

Given that, and the equally unlikely possibility of loss of propulsion or steerage, it seems to just leave us with human error.

The Times has just stated "prosecutors confirmed the captain of the vessel had abandoned ship in the middle of the evacuation."

As Hylander says, "Truth will out in the end".

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Hi All,

To put the record straight from the beginning I know as much about this accident as the rest of you. Like the rest of you I am trying to piece together what happened from news stories. The link that John put up at the beginning of this topic is refreshinly unsensationalised. (is that a word?)

Unfortunatley what will happen is that this story will fade from the news when the next fooballer is caught with his pants down or the next series of Dancing on X big brother starts. I will however keep my ears to the ground and let you know what the Maritime world is making of this.

As Jonzo says above yes this has happened but this was in the early days of GPS and I would hope that most mariners are now aware of this and back up GPS navigation with more traditional methods.

Strowie you must have misinterpreted my posting as no such system exists. BUT Modern Electronic charts when zoomed in will display the ships outline on the chart or integrated radar display so you can see in almost real time where the ship is in relation to the navigation chart and a vector is produced that tells you where you are going to be in the future if you continue on this route. These sophisticated systems can also be set to alarm if they see the ship heading into danger. Unfortunatley this alarm system is not popular with navigation officers as there are far too many systems that will alarm and this proves to be a distraction and draws attention away from what you are trying to focus on. For example auto detection and tracking of radar targets will give an alarm when a ship is coming the other way and in my part of the marine world I do not want this as I know I will be passing the other ship pretty close as we both need to stay within the confines of the navigation channel so I request this function to be disabled.

Loss of power with the consequent loss of propulsion and steering is a possibility. There are multi layered back up systems to prevent this but like anything they can fail. If for example the ship has pod propulsion like many modern cruise liners do then if propulsion is lost then so is steering. If say the vessel was heading toward a waypoint near to the island when propulsion failed then she is going to take a hell of a long way to stop if she was at high speed. IIRC it is very deep water around these islands and anchoring would be impossible.Its quite possible that they knew that they were going aground but could do nothing about it.

But however at the moment this is all speculation and as David hylander says the truth will out in the end.

There have been concerns in the maritime industry for some time about the sheer size of modern cruise liners and the difficulty in managing that amount of people in the remote case of an abandonment. I think the crew are to be praised for managing to evacuate so many people safely never mind being arrested for manslaughter but that is the way of the world these days.

Its been a long while since I last studied construction rules but passenger ships are designed with criteria to keep them upright in the case of a hull breach by cross ballasting from a damage control centre. The rules state that they have to remain upright even if they are sinking for sufficient time for the lifeboats to be launched. This of course all goes to hell in a handcart if the ship is on rocks or as looks like this case in very shallow water.

Lets hope the missing are found soon.

Rod

Sorry just a quick add on.

The pics I have seen of a rock embedded in the hull of the ship looks to me like the type of rock that is used to reinforce breakwaters. Could the ship have been trying to enter a safe harbour when she lost power?

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Strowie you must have misinterpreted my posting as no such system exists.

I thought I'd seen something like it on TV as well, during the maiden voyage of QM2 when she docked at the Ocean Terminal at Southampton for the first time. I remember a large screen chartplotter showing the actual outline of the ship in relation to either side of the docks with a few feet to spare, whilst she turned under her own power, in the dark. :shock: I seem to remember some sort of "fly by wire" system where the ship was maneuvered by the pods being controlled directly by the computer from bridge commands where the helm wanted it to move to. (sideways/diagonally etc.)

With the average accuracy of non-military GPS now being around 50ft or less, a thousand foot long vessel is surely more precisely plotted with a fix at each end ?

There was quite a discussion about it on here: http://www.ybw.com/forums/archive/index ... 71348.html

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With the average accuracy of non-military GPS now being around 50ft or less,

Don't you believe it, the main issue with GPS (leisure) inaccuracies lies with mismatched charts, once you adjust for any offset in your area they are silly accurate, not that it should be relied on as an absolute and a substitute for proper a nav regime, as I said earlier and I’m sure Rod will confirm, even Admiralty charts are not 100% infallible. As an instance I have three plotters on board with the receivers about 6 feet apart and they show me on my finger when parked and most nav buoys shown on the plotters are covered by a real time radar blip when I have them on radar overlay. There are a number of instances where vessels report uncharted obstructions which have to be added to chart updates. From the latest info it appears to me that a possible uncharted obstruction was clouted and the skipper made the decision to get the ship as close to shore as possible in an attempt to effect easier rescue, but that is of course speculation, which I did counsel against earlier, mia culpa :oops:

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Hi Strowie,

If you read my previous I did say that when you zoom in the ships outline can be displayed on the electronic chart or radar.

That is simply what you were seeing on the QM2

For really confined space manouvering many pilotage authorities will have the pilots carry thier own docking aid which is a laptop based display which will display real time tidal and traffic information as well. We are evaluating these systems for the new London Gateway terminal.

The so called fly by wire system is only a way of integrating the numerous controls into one joystick and azimuth controller to simplify it for the operator. These have been around for getting on for 30 years or more on ships with complex manouvering systems. I can remember 70's built supply vessels with them. They are common (probably now the norm) in the offshore industry.

Turning a ship in its own length off the berth in the dark is what us pilots do all the time. :o

I know of no ships that have GPS antenna at either end of the ship. What you will see on some ships (such as ferries) is a radar antenna at either the stern or bow for serious close quarters work in fog. I think I can speak for all professional mariners here when I say we would much rather rely on radar as its showing you what is actually out there in relation to the ship rather than any satellite based system however good they are. I regularly see ships happily passing over sandbanks that would cause them to ground in reality on the GPS driven electronic charts. Just as well we dont rely on them. :(

Ships that need really high positioning accuracy such as DP ships will only use DGPS as a back up system. There are several radar and transponder based systems around which are used as the primary system.

Rod

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Really tragic case and with such a modern ship.Looking at the pictures it is a puzzle how the stabiliser is apparently undamaged and yet the damage aft of this is so severe that one wonders if she was turning and the rear end struck the rocks or maybe it was deployed after the impact?.Some found alive today ,lets hope for more to be found bt the rescuers.

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Yeah I know its speculation, but

From the latest info it appears to me that a possible uncharted obstruction was clouted and the skipper made the decision to get the ship as close to shore as possible in an attempt to effect easier rescue, but that is of course speculation,

Yes that was my initial impression that they had hit something either uncharted or in error and the Captain has made the descision to intentinally ground the vessel before it sank. To me that is a very courageous decision to make with 4000 people on board and a rocky coastline.

I must say again that after all the bad publicity about the evacuation I still think the crew did absolutley superbly to get so many off a ship that was listing so badly and so quickly.

Rod

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At a time such as this it's very useful to have people on the forum that really know the subject, rather than conjecture, which is where I was going. :roll:

Modern technology is evolving at an unbelievable pace, and TV documentaries showing the innards of monster ships and super ferries gave the impression to Plebs like me that "autopilot" now means someone staying on the Bridge 24/7 reading a book !

I can now see the reliability of radar being a much safer option than chart accuracy and GPS plotting.

What about underwater though ? Surely (here I go again), with the advent of forward facing sonar and even WW2 Asdic, these huge multi million pound ships can have some viable sort of "underwater radar" as well ?

Another speculative comment on the TV was that Med Cruise ships are expected to give passengers a closer view of the coastline, so travel much more inshore than ships purely in transit from A to B. If that's the case, and thinking that this one draws 26ft, couldn't there be some sort of alarmed Asdic ?

With modern technology and the great increase in the size and numbers of these ships, one would have thought that Titanic and Poseidon scenarios (fact and fiction) were no longer possible. I wonder if confidence and cruise bookings will be affected by this ?

Some very good points being made about the Captain and Crew on here, no-one knows if anyone is at fault, or indeed may well have been very skilful and courageous until the investigation is published.

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Hi Strowie,

All ships are equipped with echo sounders. IMHO the most useless piece of kit on the bridge as the only thing it will tell you is that you are aground. It does not as you say look forward.

I'm afraid I do not know the technical reasons this has never been installed on ships but I do know that it was much discussed in the 70's for fitting on Supertankers but never materialised. The reason it was mooted for Supertankers was that no one when charts were made thought you would have ships with over 20m draft so anything over that was not important. (Which is why charts for submarines can be unreliable). There were a good few cases of Supertankers grounding in what was charted deep water.

I doubt if it will effect cruise bookings as these events are so rare. Also there is always the perverse reaction of the human race to enjoy the thrill of percieved danger ;)

As far as sitting on the bridge reading a book is concerned..... well there is always some daft bugger in a yacht out there with his radar reflecter rigged the wrong way. :naughty::naughty:

Rod

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I was thinking the same about ffs and also the fact that these ships do run outside of normal channels at times hence inacuracys in charts plotted many years ago would not necessarily have been highlighted before.

Remember the same charts ate used by gps as paper charts.

Given the slow speed manoeuvrebility of these cruise ships does this transpired to high speed running. If not is ffs any good to the captain given its limited range?

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well there is always some daft bugger in a yacht out there with his radar reflecter rigged the wrong way. :naughty::naughty:

:roll:

I've been on the IOW car ferry groping it's way up Southampton Water at 5 knots in 20 metre visibility fog a few times in years gone by.

They always then had a lookout with a radio right up in the bows peering into the mist.....

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Good point Ian,

Yes at high speed would a fwd looking echo sounder be able to lok far enough ahead to be any use.

A ship this size could turn quickly at high speed but would still hqve a heck of a job crash stopping.

Rod

Ps Ships use different types of electronic charts than are common on leisure craft. The type you normally see on Leisure craft are what we call Raster Charts and are basically a photcopy of a paper chart. (These are also used on some ships BTW) The preferred chart type (which will become compulory in the next few years) is a Vector chart which is constructed in layers (electronically) so you can display as much or as little information that you want. A Raster chart is dumb just like its paper equivellent. whereas a Vector chart you can manipulate electronically.

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Whats worrying for me and we have been on about 6 cruise ships is that it does not appear that they did a lifeboat jacket drill that same evening.we have had a drill within 2 hours of boarding the ship. So this question of hitting a reef etc does not tally up. I do not think this captain or his no 2 will get another job.

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Think there are a couple of plotters still using razter charts but we are on vector too.

You would be amazed how civilised US leisure boaters have become over the last few years Rod

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Whats worrying for me and we have been on about 6 cruise ships is that it does not appear that they did a lifeboat jacket drill that same evening.we have had a drill within 2 hours of boarding the ship. So this question of hitting a reef etc does not tally up. I do not think this captain or his no 2 will get another job.

Indeed, on the cruise we have recently returned from, no lifeboat drill took place until aproximatly 24hrs after boarding, the only safety information given to passengers was that on a DVD playing on the TV as they entered their cabin. :norty:

Being as some people only return to their cabin to sleep at night, and not many want to sit in there watching Tv when there is glorious sunshine to be had out on deck, plus food and drinks galore to be enjoyed, there is no wonder the safety DVDs often get switched off and ignored. One of the survivors from this latest disaster has been speaking on another forum I fequent, and said that the problem with ships who carry a wide range of nationalities, is that in an emergency the life boat drill and any further safety instructions have to be relayed in so many languages, that people panic and make their own desisions whilst waiting for instructions to be given out in a language they understand, hence a number jumped overboard into the sea.

We will wait and see if any changes have been made to the safety proceedures when we sail on our next cruise out of the port of tyne this summer. although we are sailing with the same cruise line as before, in the past, departures out of a British port have always included a Lifeboat drill before we left the harbour mouth, and in the case of it being foul weather, the drill has taken place in the entertainment theatre with the aid of a large screen video presentation and staff assisting passengers in the correct way to wear their life jackets upon entry.

Julz :wave

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Yup, my C-Map ones are Vector based anyway.

Here's Lowestoft zoomed in to different levels... :)

post-669-136713880902_thumb.jpg

post-669-136713881208_thumb.jpg

post-669-136713881226_thumb.jpg

post-669-136713881243_thumb.jpg

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I wonder just how many of the cruise roots follow charts constructed with lead lines.

With ships getting bigger and drawing more if they are not using routes mapped with modern means it can only be a matter of time before more rocky outcrops are discovered.

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David, Ian, Strowie,

Well I must admit I didnt know that leisure charts were vector charts :o

My only excuse is that I am not doing my electronic chart course (generic) until next month :oops::oops:

Julz ,Barry,

IIRC the requirement to have a lifeboat drill is that it must be carried out within 24 hrs of a certain percentage( I think 10% but dont quote me)of the complement changing. And then weekly.Its a pain for the passengers but these guys do really take safety seriously on a passy boat. The cruise ships that I do usually have a drill while I am still on board.

Julz,

There will be no change in the regulations before you go on your next cruise...honest :grin:

Maritime law takes ages to change

Strowie,

Cmap is IMHO the poorest system I have ever seen as far as electronic charts is concerned. Even I phone based apps are better. Surprised to see so much detail in your system. Maybe the leisure systems are better than the commercial ones :( Would not surprise me :cry

I will qualify my last statement.

Twice last year I found depths not displayed on Cmap systems that could have had the ship aground. Once on a 12m+ tanker when the charted depth is 8.9m. We were at Low water at the time and I had to take emergency action to avoid a grounding within 5 mins of boarding. The Captain btw was truley horrified at his mistake and said that he had learened a lesson never to trust electronic charts. The second one invoved a tanker of 9m draft in the same place, but more worrying was that that ship did not have paper chart back up. The Cmap electronic charts were the only charts on board. It was only that I had a trainee with me and he had his charts with him that I could prove that the 8.9m sounding existed at all.

An in depth discussion of this followed and eventually the Captain of the smaller tanker found the 8.9m patch by zooming in the area to a scale that no one would actually use. Clever programming by someone who does not understand the first thing about navigation. two gunstwo guns

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eventually the Captain of the smaller tanker found the 8.9m patch by zooming in the area to a scale that no one would actually use. Clever programming by someone who does not understand the first thing about navigation.

Speaking more as a programmer than a Navigator, (though I've never been involved in charting), I guess you've highlighted a basic quandary in the whole principle of vector mapping.

To only show detailed shallower soundings based on the area of the shoal rather than the depth, when sufficiently zoomed.

As paper charts can only be viewed at the full printed scale, none of the detail is ever shielded from view, which, as you say, can be crucial.

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Some of us leisure guys may even be helping you proper blokes out Rod, there is a project underway that I am taking part in, it consists of a very small USB stick and recorder on board that is interfaced to GPS and sounder (you must show that it is properly calibrated) this records position and depth at quite short intervals and is then uploaded to the project base via your internet connection using the USB stick. There are loads of boats taking part in the Thames and East Coast and though obviously most are inshore the results will be interesting to see.

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Julz ,Barry,

IIRC the requirement to have a lifeboat drill is that it must be carried out within 24 hrs of a certain percentage( I think 10% but dont quote me)of the complement changing. And then weekly.Its a pain for the passengers but these guys do really take safety seriously on a passy boat. The cruise ships that I do usually have a drill while I am still on board.

Julz,

There will be no change in the regulations before you go on your next cruise...honest :grin:

Maritime law takes ages to change

Thats interesting Rod, I have never been asked by any cruise line to attend a weekly 'Lifeboat drill' after the initial one, even on cruises of 26nights+ and even after a real emergency occured, with a fire in the electrical system in one of the bars onboard P&O Arcadia, whilst she was mid Atlantic, and which filled the corridors on that level with acrid smoke.

At the time, we heard the announcement over the tanoy of 'all staff code X' followed by the bars location, and loads of staff and senior officers dropping whatever they were doing and quickly scrambling along the decks to reach the area. :o

At this point none of the passengers, apart from those who had been on that level at the time, were aware of what had happened, and most mistook the code to be the one used for a medical emergency, to which there had been a few onboard since embarkation, mainly concerning elderly guests who had over indulged and had a fall, or for one unfortunate man who suffered a cardiac arrest at the side of the main Lido pool and died.

When we hit land in Barbados, they did do a full lifeboat drill then, but with most people out on day excursions, this was done for the benefit of the crew only, and lasted a few hours whilst they launched all the lifeboats and tenders, took them for a spin around the harbour, and had the maintenance men check over the davits and launching gear, and service the life boats/ships tender engines before they were hoisted back onboard into there correct position.

One thing that did concern me on the last cruise though, was the way that clutter was allowed to build up in the corridors around the cabin areas. They had decided to do some upgrade work whilst the ship was underway, and this included stripping out some areas of carpets and relaying new, but often the discarded rolled up old stuff, along with the room maid's linen trollies, and suitcases outside cabin doors awaiting collection, made passage along these difficult even under normal conditions, let alone for the less mobile/particially sighted/elderly guests if an emergency was to happen.

Some guests did put in a formal complaint about the issues raised above, but were very rudely fobbed off by staff, and if pushed hard enough, the best they could do was offer the passenger a voucher for a free bottle of wine with dinner that evening, which is not really the answer to a serious safety issue.

Well at least for the next cruise Rod, we will have our own pilot on board for most of the duration, as we will be sailing within the Norwiegen Fiords and as far up as the Northern Cape of Finmark, stunning scenery and no nasty smelly industrial ports to be berthed in, unlike our last cruise with places like Safaga which really was the pits! :naughty:

Julz :wave

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