A safari vessel with 14 passengers and 11 crewmembers began its journey to Hanifaru Bay (marine protected area) in Baa Atoll from Hulhumalé. The sea was calm with easterly wind, current and low swell.
The master and another crew member was on the bridge as a lookout and the assistant captain was in the engine room as the vessel navigated through the atoll. The captain was relying on GPS for checking her position while he navigated
in close vicinity of reefs. The vessel, cruising at its maximum speed of 8 knots, ran aground on the eastern reef of a island around midnight.
Immediately after grounding, the master attempted to use the vessel’s own power
to pull the vessel off the reef but was unsuccessful. He assessed the surrounding area and immediately arranged to secure the vessel to prevent it from being swept further onto the reef.
This incident occurred during high tide and the vessel, positioned parallel to the reef, was not listing at the time. She ran aground on the seaward side of the island
and therefore, waves were breaking on the vessel, pushing the vessel into the
shallower region. The captain informed the vessel operator and requested to report the incident to the MNDF Coastguard, the Maldives Police Service and other relevant parties.
Their “Dive Dhoni” travelling with her was called and used to evacuate passengers. Soon after, the captain discovered that flooding had started in the engine room but it had not affected any other areas at the time. Two on-board pumps were immediately engaged, and they kept running continuously. Passengers were transferred via the tender boat to the Dive Dhoni which then transported them to a nearby inhabited island. After sometime, the grounded vessel had listed to a side
and the flooding had caused the main engine to shut down. Thereafter, crew shut down onboard generator.
The weather was fine at the time of the incident and remained the same for the next 3 days.
Map 1: General route taken by the Safari on the day of incident
The vessel departed for Baa Atoll Hanifaru Bay. The route to the destination was set via the upper north Hussfaru Reef (Off shore reef) and continuing towards Goidhoo and ultimately to Hanifaru Bay which is in close proximity to Baa Dharavandhoo island (See Map 1 above).
Map 2: Location of the grounding
The image in Map 2 is from Google earth pro historical imagery data for Dharavandhoo Island. The vessel’s position on the lower eastern outer reef suggests that the vessel would have travelled in close proximity and along the outer reef line or parallel to the reef.
BE CAUTIOUS, BE SAFE!
Root cause Analysis
- Crew employed were not in a possession of valid licenses.
- Poor passage planning and execution by skipper.
- Relying on GPS alone for the night navigation.
- The decision by skipper to navigate during the night in an area where the reefs are not properly marked by lights.
- Vessel owners and managers are responsible to verify that the hired crew members are in possession of valid documents and licenses.
- Passage planning is important irrespective of the size of the vessel.
- GPS on-board must be used for a reference only.
- Skippers must not rely solely on GPS for navigation in the vicinity of reefs.
- Night navigation is not recommended in the areas of unmarked reefs without right bridge equipment.