The coastal feeder cargo ship Petra L collided with a wind turbine in the Gode Wind wind farm north of the German Wadden Islands Norderney and Juist. The ship was en route from Szczecin, Poland to Antwerp, Belgium with 1500 tons of grain when the collision occurred. The ship suffered a significant gash in the starboard side of the bow and diverted from its course to seek refuge in Emden, a Lower Saxony seaport in northwest Germany. Authorities were initially unsure of what had happened, but investigations have since revealed the collision with the wind turbine.
The ship is now docked in the inner harbour repair yard, undergoing repairs after the collision. None of the six crew members were injured in the incident. The police suspect that the captain was on autopilot and deviated kilometers from its intended route. The exact cause of the ship’s deviation from its course is currently under investigation.
500 IMO safety zone
A safety zone of 500 meters is established around offshore wind farms. According to the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency, both the wind farm operator and the federal traffic control center monitor the wind farms.
The wind farm operator Ørsted initially denied that any of its wind turbines had been hit but eventually revealed that one of the installations had been slightly damaged. According to the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency, both the wind farm operator and the federal traffic control center monitor the wind farms and would have been obliged to contact the captain of the Petra L, but they did not do so confirmed the CEO Malte Hippe of wind farm operator Ørsted.
First Recorded Incident
The incident is the first time a ship has collided with an offshore wind turbine in the German waters. The safety zone of 500 meters around offshore wind farms is established by IMO to prevent such incidents.
The captain has not yet commented on the accident, and his lawyer has promised a statement for next week. The case involves, among other things, the violation of the reporting obligation for accidents. The approximately 40-year-old ship is expected to sail again in three and a half weeks.
Despite the significant damage to the ship, it arrived safely in the port of Emden thanks to calm weather conditions. The incident is remarkable, and the exact cause of the ship’s deviation from its course without the crew noticing and intervening is a subject of investigation.
Offshore Vessel Traffic Monitoring Service
Royal Dirkzwager operates a 24/7/365 control room to monitor the vessel traffic in the vicinity of offshore assets like wind parks and offshore energy installations. Using remote-controlled VHF radio’s ships are warned 45 minutes before when a ship is on a collision course with an offshore installation. Dirkzwager currently monitors over 40 platforms in the Dutch part of the north sea as well as the offshore farm outside the coast of Scheveningen.
More information about Offshore VTMs and surveillance can be found here.