Lashing system not sufficient for weather conditions, investigation finds

The lashing system in operation on Netherlands-flagged cargo Ship Eemslift Hendrika (IMO 9671486) was not sufficient for the prevailing weather conditions, the Dutch Safety Board (Onderzoeksraad voor Veiligheid, OVV) has found.

The vessel ran into difficulties off the coast of Norway during a northwestern storm in early April 2021. The cargo hold contained, among other things, azimuth thrusters. A number of the azimuth thrusters in the cargo hold shifted and, as a result, punctured an anti-heeling tank and ballast water tanks. The water then flowed from the tanks into the cargo hold. As a result of the shifting azimuth thrusters and the ballast water leaking into the hold, the vessel developed a starboard list.

All crew members were evacuated and the vessel continued on its way on automatic pilot. The next morning it became clear that propulsion had cut out. The wind was blowing the vessel slowly in the direction of the Norwegian coast. During the night the vessel also lost a portion of the deck cargo, and took the jib of the deck crane with it, damaging the hull of the vessel. On April 7th the vessel could safely be towed into Ålesund harbour.

In May the Dutch Safety Board began its investigation.

Its just published report found that the azimuth thrusters became detached due to a lashing system that was unable to cope with the conditions during the sea voyage. Because the weather conditions deteriorated, it became impossible to maintain course and speed, and the ship had to ride out the storm. At no time did the operator and owner give a direct order to take a safer, alternative route.

In theory, the load capacity of the lashing system was sufficient, OVV said. However, the azimuth thrusters had not been lashed into the hold by the crew in accordance with the plan, which resulted in different forces being exerted on the lashings than previously calculated.

The operator did not provide a control mechanism that guaranteed that the azimuth thrusters were lashed in the same way in practice as planned in theory. The shipping company had extensive knowledge and experience in the field of loading and lashing cargo and azimuth thrusters. This knowledge and experience was not (pro)actively shared, so the knowledge was not fully utilized.

The OVV recommended that operator Amasus ensure that the stowage and lashing of unusual cargo with an eccentric centre of gravity or deviating shape could be carried out on board in such a way that reality is in accordance with the plan.

2015-built, Netherlands-flagged, 5,460 gt Eemslift Hendrika is owned by Eemsligt Hendrika BV care of manager Amasus Support BV of Delfzjil, Netherlands. It is entered with North of England on behalf of Noord Nederlandsche P&I Club.