Groundings and strandings are probably the most common types of marine casualties. A grounding is when a ship strikes the seabed, while a stranding is when the ship then remains there for some length of time. Both can damage a vessel and result in oil spills depending on the ocean bottom type (rocky, sandy, muddy), sea conditions, and severity of the event (is the ship a little scraped or did it break open).
Grounding, even without initial damage, induces extreme loads onto marine structures. It is a marine accident of profound importance due to its impact and may lead to the following:

  • The loss of human life.
  • The environmental impact, especially in the case where large tanker ships are involved.
  • Financial consequences to local communities close to the accident.
  • The financial consequences to ship-owners, due to ship loss or penalties.

The following is a general plan of action, with suitable modifications to suit the actual type of ship involved:

  • Stop engines and sound the general alarm.
  • Check soundings of all double bottom spaces, cofferdams etc.
  • Get ready for re-floating and close all water-tight doors.
  • Assess hull damage and stability.
  • Assess possible effects of the grounding on cargo.
  • Determine shoal depth, sea bed composition and direction of deep water.
  • Carry out jettisoning of cargo, if possible.
  • Prepare boats for launching and carry out other necessary actions.
  • Carry out de-ballasting if necessary and if feasible and / or plan jettisoning of cargo if possible.
  • Check for oil pollution & take remedial measures.
  • Close the sea chest valves and lock the rudder temporarily.
  • Check the tide timings and keep the engines on stand by for re-floating attempts.
  • Inform all concerned with updates from time to time.
  • Exhibit the vessel aground lights / shapes.

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