TAIC releases report on February 2017 collision between cruise ship and bulker in Timaru

Image: Wikimedia Commons/Sabung.hamster
Seabourn Encore

New Zealand’s Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) has released its report on the collision between the cruise ship Seabourn Encore (pictured) and a bulk cement carrier in Timaru on February 12, 2017.

Seabourn Encore was moored at the Port of Timaru when the wind grew stronger and changed direction quicker and earlier than predicted. It pushed the ship away from the wharf, and the ship’s mooring lines progressively failed, as did the mooring bollards on the wharf, which tore away.

The ship’s stern swung across the harbour and collided with a bulk cement carrier.

The Seabourn Encore crew’s prompt action, particularly in establishing power to propulsion systems to lessen impact and maintain control of the ship, very likely reduced the consequences of the incident, the TAIC report states.

There was damage to the wharf and the hulls of both ships, though neither ship’s stability was affected. No injuries were reported.

Key findings

  • The TAIC found that the mooring failed because the bollards on the wharf failed. The bollards failed because their fastenings to the wharf, and the underlying wharf structure, could not take the force from the ship’s mooring lines.
  • The commission also found that the port company did not know enough about the safe working loads of the bollards on the wharf and the port’s mooring procedures were not strictly followed.
  • The port company did not follow its own plan for responding to a predicted change in the weather.
  • As a result, neither the port staff nor Seabourn Encore’s crew could get ready in time. In the event, prompt action by the ship’s crew very likely reduced the consequences of the accident.

Safety issues and key lessons

  • Bollard strength: The safe working loads of the bollards on the wharf were unknown so it was not possible to determine whether the mooring plan for any ship was safe. Port companies must know the safe working loads for their mooring infrastructure in order to produce safe and effective ship mooring plans.
  • Mooring procedures: The port’s mooring procedures were not strictly adhered to and the procedure in the event of a high wind warning was ineffective. Procedures for monitoring and communicating weather conditions must be robust and strictly followed when harbouring ships that are prone to high winds.


Following the commission’s recommendations:

  • In Timaru: PrimePort Timaru is assessing risks for vessels intending to use the port. This includes identifying: whether berth are safe for vessels to be remain alongside; operational limits; and any additional measures needed.
  • Nationwide: Maritime New Zealand is set to publicise the report’s findings to harbourmasters and port operators, particularly risks associated with securing large vessels that may exert unexpectedly heavy loads on port infrastructure.

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