At 0219 on 25 July 2013, the tanker Apollo was rounding Tilburyness on the River Thames, England, in a strong tidal flow when it left its intended track and made contact with the quayside at the Northfleet Hope Container Terminal. The vessel and the quayside both sustained significant damage as a result of the accident.
The vessel’s manager has taken action to prevent a recurrence. A recommendation has been made to the Port of London Authority, the UK Marine Pilots Association and the Port Marine Safety Code Steering Group to develop best practice guidelines for the conduct of practical pilotage examinations.
The key safety issues identified were:
Tilburyness is an area with strong and complex tidal streams and there have been 4 accidents in this area since 2007.
The information regarding the vessel’s propulsion system was not readily available to the pilots, either through the port’s information data system or the vessel’s pilot card.
The examination was not conducted in a commentary style, compromising the ability of the bridge team to communicate effectively.
The size of the vessel was inappropriate for the examination as it was larger than the size for which the pilot was being examined.