Failure of controllable pitch propeller on cargo vessel CFL Patron resulting in contact with lock gates and tug Guardsman

Location: Immingham Docks, England.

Completed PE Summary: CFL Patron

A short summary of the accident and action taken:

Merchant Vessel/Accident Details
Vessel Name CFL Patron
Registered Owner CFL Patron
Manager CFL Shipmanagement B.V.
Port of Registry Groningen
Flag Netherlands
Type General cargo vessel
Built 2008
Construction Steel
Length Overall 118.4m
Gross Tonnage 4106
Date/Time 29/08/2010, 0932 (UTC)
Location of Incident Immingham lock
Incident Type Machinery failure resulting in contact
Persons Onboard 9
Injuries/Fatalities None
Damage/Pollution Damage to vessel, tug, and lock gates


The general cargo vessel CFL Patron suffered a controllable pitch propeller (CPP) control power failure while manoeuvring at 1.6 knots in the lock at Immingham docks, prior to departing the port. Despite the master’s attempts to recover control of the CPP system, the pitch remained at approximately 40% ahead, causing the vessel to accelerate. Although a forward spring was deployed and the tug Guardsman attempted to slow the vessel’s progress by pushing, the vessel impacted heavily with the outer lock gates at 3.7 knots. The east outer gate sustained major damage and subsequently sank, with minor damage reported to other lock gates. The lock was re-opened over 24 hours later with vessel-length operational restrictions after the sunken gate was recovered. Both CFL Patron and the tug sustained minor damage, the former to her bulbous bow; there were no injuries or pollution. The cause of the CPP control power failure could not be determined.

Action taken

The Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents has written to the vessel’s manager, CFL Shipmanagement B.V., regarding emergency preparedness for propulsion failures on its vessels; pre-departure testing of propulsion systems; and preservation of evidence and data following an accident.


Published: November 2010



Published 23 January 2015