Contact made by general cargo vessel Montis with railway swing bridge

Location: Goole, River Ouse, England.

Completed PE Summary: Montis

A short summary of the accident and action taken:

Merchant Vessel/Accident Details
#Vessel Name Montis
#Manager Warnecke Schiffahrts
#Ship Owner Warnecke L&U
#Classification Society Germanischer Loyd
#Port of Registry Hamburg
#Flag Germany
#Type General cargo
#Built 1985
#Construction Steel
#Length Overall 82.45m
#Gross Tonnage 1649
#Date/Time 24/06/2008, 2355 (UTC +1)
#Location of Incident Goole railway swing bridge, River Ouse
#Incident Type Contact
#Persons Onboard 7
#Injuries/Fatalities None
#Damage/Pollution Minor damage to vessel/None


Montis was on passage from Sweden to Howdendyke with a cargo of packaged timber, some of which was stowed on the hatches. The river passage from Bull anchorage was undertaken with an ABP Humber pilot on board. The Humber pilot disembarked at Blacktoft and an Ouse pilot embarked to conduct the rest of the passage to Howdendyke, which included passing through the Goole railway swing bridge.

During the master/pilot exchange, the master was given the Ouse pilot passage plan and in return the pilot was shown the vessel’s pilot card. The target time for arrival at Howdendyke was 0030. High water at Goole was at 0017 and it was neap tides.

The vessel left Blacktoft at 2250, with the pilot steering at the central console. It was calm, there was clear visibility and it was dark. After passing Goole and on the approach to the bridge, the pilot, on the master’s suggestion, changed his steering position to the starboard side of the wheelhouse, while the master remained at the central console.

The vessel began passing through the narrow eastern channel of the swing bridge with the flood tide, at about 5 knots over the ground. When half-way through, the master saw that the vessel was being set towards the eastern buttress and asked the pilot what he was going to do about it. The pilot applied hard to starboard helm and placed the engine on full ahead. However, the vessel’s starboard quarter made a glancing contact with the buttress. The vessel continued on passage and was secured alongside at Howdendyke at 0030.

Action taken

The Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents has written to British Waterways (the competent harbour authority for the River Ouse at the Goole railway swing bridge and Howdendyke) strongly advising them:

  • to include in the Ouse pilot passage plan the required speed for transiting through the Goole Railway Bridge; and

  • to require a more detailed discussion during the master/pilot exchange so that masters are able to challenge decisions or actions taken by pilots at an early stage in order that, when required, effective corrective action can be taken to prevent accidents;

and suggesting that they should consider the best practice of a pilot not acting as helmsman.

The Chief Inspector has also written to the owner of Montis, highlighting the need for effective dialogue between the master and the pilot in order that the master can be assured of the intentions of the pilot at an early stage.

Published: July 2008

Published 23 January 2015