OVV records accidents in inland navigation

Dutch Safety Board (OVV) wants to pay more attention to accidents in inland navigation. The council recognises similarities with maritime shipping, where accidents are already currently being investigated. According to the January-July 2022 Shipping Incidents Report, the sectors can “learn a lot from each other” in terms of safety.

The Dutch Safety Commission is required to investigate serious accidents during transport. It covers both incidents involving Dutch ships and incidents in Dutch territorial waters. This obligation does not apply to inland shipping. Nevertheless, (very) serious accidents on inland waterways are now on the OVV’s radar. This can be read in the foreword to the semi-annual accident report. “In both maritime and inland navigation, incidents involving hazardous cargo, capsizing or hawser breakage occur regularly. Valuable lessons can indeed be learned from these accidents and shipping and inland shipping can learn from each other, which is why the Dutch Safety Board is going to pay more attention to the inland shipping sector.

The council cites a number of incidents involving both sea and inland vessels, such as the collision in April 2019 between the river cruise ship “Viking Idum” and the chemical tanker “Chemical Marketer”. The collision could have been avoided if the ships had had the same language of communication. English is the official language for maritime transport, but for inland navigation there is no uniform official language, usually the language of the country where the ship is located. Maritime transport was also involved in the capsizing of the ship “Mar-Grethe”. The ship was loaded with 880 tonnes of aluminium piles, was sailing upstream along the Nieuwe Waterweg when she capsized due to strong waves from two ocean-going vessels. A sailor from the ship was killed in the incident.

OVV points out different conditions and requirements for the stability of seagoing and inland vessels. “Sea-going vessels need to be more resistant to stormy weather with high waves, while inland vessels are designed to navigate through narrow, shallow waters.” Stability should be a key issue when designing inland vessels operating in areas with open sea lanes. In the first six months of 2022, there were about 50 (very) serious maritime incidents. These include collisions, ship grounding and a discharge. This figure is in line with the average in recent years. Digitalisation allows more and more incidents to be linked to technical failures.