Dredger aborts entry to Littlehampton Harbour to avoid hitting small vessels

Hopper Dredger Arco Dee (IMO 8902917) aborted its entry into Littlehampton Harbour on August 3rd because of ‘inconsiderate seamanship’ from smaller vessels. After dredging 1,200 tons of sand off the coast the Littlehampton Harbour Board closed the harbour so the dredger could enter at high tide.

The harbour master boarded the Arco Dee during the afternoon and made the standard safety broadcasts over VHF Radio to announce the temporary closure of the harbour. A planned entry at 14:15 was delayed by ‘a number of vessels still attempting to enter or depart the harbour ahead of the Arco Dee, deliberately evading the efforts of harbour staff’ who had asked all vessels to return to their moorings. One sailing yacht made a late entry ahead of the vessel at a slower speed. Despite direct attempts to contact it on different radio channels, and the Arco Dee’s captain sounding 10 blasts on its horn, the yacht did not adjust its course.

With the risk of collision imminent and there being a ‘significant danger to life’, the “Arco Dee” made a hard turn to the left and a tight figure of eight turn to line up for a second entry. The manoeuvre was aborted at 14:33.

Littlehampton Harbour Board thanked the majority of vessel skippers to co-operated, kept themselves informed by VHF radio and as a result did not put themselves or any other vessels at risk. However, number of small vessel skippers were formally cautioned by the harbour master; further enforcement action is currently pending in some cases. The entrance is 31 metres wide at its narrowest point and has a strong tidal stream that pushes boats sideways on approach. Many larger ships only have 50 cm clearance above the seabed. The Arco Dee entered the harbour safely at 14:50, 55 minutes after high water, and was safely moored on its berth by 15:15. 1990-built, UK-flagged, 1,309 gt Arco Dee is owned and managed by Hanson Aggregates Marine Ltd of Maidenhead, UK. It is entered with Shipowners’ Club on behalf of Heidelberg Group.