Failure of controllable pitch propeller on general cargo vessel Saffier resulting in contact with berthed tug Svitzer Ferriby

Location: Port of Immingham, England.

Accident Investigation Report 9/2012

Read our marine accident investigation report, which includes what happened, actions taken and subsequent recommendations:

Saffier.pdf (1,582.38 kb)


On 25 June 2011, the general cargo vessel Saffier made contact with the tug Svitzer Ferriby, which was berthed at quay 5 and was unmanned, when control of its controllable pitch propeller (CPP) system was lost while berthing in the port of Immingham. Saffier’s stern was breached above the waterline at the starboard quarter, and the tug suffered minor damage.

Safety Issues

  • master’s lack of familiarity with the pitch control system and his subsequent attempts to regain control of the pitch increased Saffier’s sternway made the situation worse
  • the backup pitch control button did not stand out as an emergency control and, because the master was unfamiliar with its operation, the backup mode was not used


Saffier’s owner has been recommended to ensure that crew verify that they have full control of the CPP before the vessel sails from port or enters confined waters. The owner has also been recommended to improve the vessel’s safety management procedures, to improve crew training and to conduct drills to prepare crew for responding to engine control system failures. The CPP system’s manufacturer, MAN Diesel & Turbo SE, has taken actions to improve the quality of checks carried out when commissioning CPP control systems. A recommendation has been made to Bureau Veritas, Saffier’s classification society, to make a submission to the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) for the control of CPP systems to be verified throughout the whole range of ahead and astern movements during commissioning and sea trials.

This report was published on 10 May 2012.

Published 23 January 2015