For ships serious accidents rarely occur in ports, says the director of the Accident Investigation Board (Otkes) Veli-Pekka Nurmi.
“There are very few serious accidents in ports in Finland, but ports are quite cramped places for large ships. It is quite commonplace for ships to be piloted in ports, but this has been taken into account in the design of the ships, ”says Nurmi.
Otkes is conducting a preliminary investigation into the grounding of Viking Grace, which happened on a Saturday afternoon near Mariehamn harbor. The preliminary investigation will examine whether there is a need to launch an actual investigation and, if so, what kind of expertise is needed. A preliminary investigation is always made before the actual investigation is initiated.
“In such a case, it is clear that a preliminary investigation will be launched,” says Nurmi. “When a ship-class ship runs aground, it cannot be overtaken by a shrug.”
Otkes has previously investigated similar shipwrecks in ports. For example, in September 2018, a container ship ran aground off Kotka shortly after leaving the port of Mussalo. Even then, the wind in the area was strong.
At that time, Otkes drew attention to the fact that real-time weather information is not always available from port areas, but that data from nearby weather stations must be used. For example, in the case of Kotka, the nearest weather station was Rankki, which is located about six kilometers from the port of Mussalo.
The closest coastal weather station to Mariehamn, Nyhamn, is located about ten kilometers south of Mariehamn’s West Harbor.
After running aground in Kotka, Otkes recommended that the Finnish Meteorological Institute, together with the ports, develop a system that would produce port-specific weather information. I picked up an update last spring monitoring According to the Finnish Meteorological Institute, the matter has been discussed with the management of the Finnish Ports Association.
In the ports there are no absolute restrictions on the weather in which they can be visited, says Nurmi. It depends on the ship what kind of weather it can be operated on, he notes. According to Nurmi, it is up to the masters and shipowners to decide what kind of weather they call at the port, because they know the ports and their ships best.
Swedish ships sailing to Mariehamn sometimes fail to visit Åland when there is a strong wind, or they call at the port of Långnäs instead of Mariehamn, where the ships have more space. “That’s what happens here,” Nurmi says.
Swedish ships like the Viking Grace have large wind areas, so strong winds affect their movement a lot. On the other hand, masters of ships operating regular routes are familiar with ports. Viking Line is also home to Mariehamn.