Groundings made by general cargo vessel Sea Mithril while approaching port

Location: Grove Port, River Trent, England.

Accident Investigation Report 16/2008

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

SeaMithrilReport.pdf (1,023.60 kb)

Annexes (1,055.42 kb)


Between 0420 and 0450 on 18 February 2008, the UK registered cargo vessel Sea Mithril grounded in the River Trent on three occasions. A river pilot was embarked and the visibility had reduced to about 20m by dense fog. The groundings occurred after the vessel had been manoeuvred by the master, to increase the passing distance from vessels moored alongside at Flixborough. After touching the river bottom for the third time, Sea Mithril moored alongside Grove Wharf at 0510. There were no injuries to the crew and no pollution, but the vessel sustained material damage to one of her azimuth propulsion pods.

Safety Issues

  • the master was the helmsman because he was the only person able to control the ship’s azimuth propulsion system when in hand-steering
  • the master was unable to maintain a command overview of the vessel’s passage
  • the master relied totally on the pilot for the safe navigation of his vessel
  • communication and co-ordination between the master and pilot prior to the groundings was poor
  • the pilot was not supported by the bridge organisation, which became dysfunctional after restricted visibility was encountered
  • flaws in the bridge organisation and available support were not identified by the master or the pilot


Recommendations have been made to the UKMPG, BPA, UKMPA and all UK Competent Harbour Authorities with the aim of ensuring that vessels which are unable to provide adequate support to embarked pilots are identified. A recommendation to the ship’s manager is aimed at improving passage planning and ensuring crew nominated as helmsmen on ships fitted with azimuth propulsion systems receive appropriate training.

A safety flyer to the shipping industry highlighting a number of the safety lessons was produced for this report.

This report was published on 26 September 2008.

Published 23 January 2015