A pilot with extensive knowledge of berthing operations at DP World’s Jebel Ali Port has told Cruise Arabia & Africa that the collapse of a STS crane following a collision with a CMA CGM container ship was an “accident waiting to happen”.
According to the marine pilot, who asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the investigation following the incident, the turn into the Container Terminal 1 basin is notoriously difficult.
“I almost made the same mistake myself more than ten years ago,” he said. “The problem is that the turn is too sharp for these new VLCCs [Very Large Container Carrier]. I started to make the turn and the ship wasn’t turning fast enough. In that situation, you have two choices, either you go full astern and hope you stop in time, or you increase speed to get more headway.”
He said that it appears from the CCTV footage of the accident, that the pilot involved in the incident had tried to power through the turn, and then tried to slow the vessel too late, hitting the quay and one of its cranes at around 2-knots.
“It appears that he was trying to help port control, there was a vessel outbound from the general cargo terminal and what he’d intended to do was stop the CMA CGM vessel and use the tugs to turn her 270 degrees and back into the berth. Because of the oncoming ship, he seems to have changed his manoeuvring plan and instead turned into the T1 basin, with his tugs in the wrong position to provide assistance.”
The pilot Cruise Arabia & Africa spoke to acknowledged that his understanding of the accident was speculation as DP World has put in place a ‘gag order’ on all staff involved in the incident, but insisted that this was the only scenario in which such a collision could have occurred.
Cruise Arabia & Africa was shown a text message sent by DP World management to all marine operations staff instructing them not to communicate any details of the accident with the media.
“It was an accident waiting to happen,” he said, adding that DP World is hiring pilot’s who are inexperienced, giving them too little training and putting them in charge of ship’s they’re not fully equipped to handle.
“I know the pilot that this happened to, he’s an extremely nice guy, well respected his colleagues and he was shaping up to be a great pilot, but he wasn’t ready to be handling ships this size,” he said.
Cruise Arabia & Africa has been unable to verify this information as DP World has issued an order to all staff not to speak to the media and its communications department did not respond to a request for comment.
See the video of the incident below.