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Accident Investigation Report: Collision Between Fishing Vessel Kirkella and Unmanned Tug Shovette

An accident investigation report has been released today, shedding light on the collision between the UK-registered fishing vessel Kirkella and the unmanned tug Shovette that occurred at King George Dock, Hull, on June 24, 2022. The incident resulted in pollution and raised safety concerns.

Accident Investigation Report: Collision Between Fishing Vessel Kirkella And Unmanned Tug Shovette

Incident Details

On June 24, 2022, while docked at King George Dock, Hull, the crew of Kirkella lost control of its propulsion system. The vessel collided with the unmanned tug Shovette, which was moored ahead. During the collision, Shovette’s hull and starboard fuel tank were breached by Kirkella’s bulbous bow. As a result, approximately 7,000 litres of marine diesel oil spilt into the dock. Fortunately, there were no injuries and Kirkellasustained minimal damage.

Safety Issues Identified

The investigation highlighted several safety issues:

  1. Mismatched Pitch Levers: The pitch levers for Kirkella’s propulsion control system were not aligned between the bridge and engine control room during control transfer.
  2. Lack of Verification: Kirkella’s engineer failed to check the pitch lever when control was passed between the bridge and the engine room.
  3. No Control Changeover Procedure: There was no established procedure for control changeover.
  4. Classification Society Rules: The classification society’s rules for remote control of engines were not in line with international unified requirements.


The report includes the following recommendations:

  1. Det Norske Veritas (DNV):
    • Propose a review of Unified Requirement M43.12 to clarify its intent.
    • Inform customers that the Rolls-Royce Helicon-X3 system may allow remote control station changeover with mismatched levers and recommend contacting the manufacturer for advice.
  2. Kongsberg Maritime:
    • Issue a service letter to customers advising them that the Rolls-Royce Helicon-X3 system’s remote control changeover process can lead to significant alterations in propelling thrust due to mismatched levers. Provide guidance on operation and rectification if requested.

Industry Awareness

In addition to the report, a safety flyer has been distributed within the shipping industry. It emphasises the risk associated with mismatched propeller pitch levers during control transfer and suggests potential mitigation measures.

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