THE grounding of bulk carrier World Diana in April last year at the Port of Bunbury has prompted Southern Port Authority to update its marine pilotage standards and procedures for Bunbury.

It has introduced standard procedures for departing all berths, including no 3 when berthed starboard side alongside.

A maximum rate of turn for turning ships in the harbour has also been specified.

An ATSB investigation, which released its findings on 10 July, found ineffective bridge resource management contributed to the grounding of the bulk carrier which suffered only minor damage in the incident.

The grounding took place on 22 April 2023 as the 229 m long, Isle of Man-registered bulk carrier was leaving Bunbury under the conduct of a harbour pilot, with two tugs assisting.

While not found to have contributed to the grounding, in the course of the investigation the ATSB found the Port of Bunbury had not developed adequate procedures for arrival and departure plans for larger ships berthed on their starboard side alongside berth no. 3.

Chief Commissioner Angus Mitchell  said this reduced the information available to pilots for these ship movements, and to share with bridge teams and tug masters to ensure a common understanding of how manoeuvring would be conducted.

After being moved off its berth, the ship had to be turned in the swing basin before exiting the harbour.

Mr Mitchell said this turn was started earlier than planned, reducing the amount of room available.

“The ship’s speed was then allowed to increase until there was no room to safely turn, and the bow of the ship grounded on a shallow bank to the east of the harbour entrance.”

The ship sustained minor hull damage, but was able to be manoeuvred off the bank. Fortunately, there was no pollution reported.

The ATSB’s investigation found bridge resource management during the pilotage was ineffective.

“Bridge resource management is an important part of safe pilotage,” Mr Mitchell said. 

“Effective use of available resources reduces the chance of single-person errors and minimises their impact.”

The report says the proper use of the available portable pilot unit, effective communication, and active involvement of the World Diana’s bridge team and the tug masters, would have allowed the deviation from the plan to be detected in time to prevent the grounding.

“Specific information and limits for the departure plan were only known to the pilot, which made it difficult for the bridge team to raise concerns during the event,” Mr Mitchell said.

“Nevertheless, had the ship’s master – an experienced ship-handler familiar with the ship’s movement characteristics – been actively monitoring the pilotage, the early turn and ship’s increasing headway should have become evident.”