Engine failure on container vessel Savannah Express and subsequent contact with linkspan

Location: Southampton Docks, England.

Accident Investigation Report 8/2006

Investigation report into marine accident including what happened, safety lessons and recommendations made:

Savannah Express.pdf (1,135.82 kb)


At 1146 on 19 July 2005, one of the largest container vessels in the world, the German flagged, 94483 gross tonne Savannah Express made heavy contact with a linkspan at 201 berth, Southampton Docks. The vessel had lost astern engine power entering the Upper Swinging Ground where she was due to swing before going alongside.

Safety Issues

  • three out of four suction pressure sensors for the four main hydraulic pumps had failed before Savannah Express reached Singapore, due to hydraulic pressure fluctuations, or pulses. Only one spare sensor had been carried, and the availability of further sensors was limited due to supply problems
  • the chief engineer had been informed by the engine manufacturer’s service engineer in Singapore that the loss of all four sensors would not cause an engine shutdown. He was therefore content for the vessel to sail with only one operational sensor
  • as Savannah Express approached the Nab Tower, number four hydraulic pump suction pressure sensor failed. Without any suction pressure indication, the ECS caused the engine to shutdown to protect the pumps from potential damage
  • the chief engineer had limited understanding of the ECS


Specific recommendations have been addressed to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), the ship manager of Savannah Express and the engine manufacturer, and UK harbour authorities with the purpose of:

  • raising at IMO the need for improved training requirements of ships’ engineers and electricians
  • improving the MAN B&W specialised training course for electronically controlled engines
  • raising awareness of the inability of some large, powerful vessels to fully test their main propulsion systems prior to departure from the berth, due to likely mooring damage

This report was published in March 2006.

Published 23 January 2015