Dutch Safety Board and Coastguard Issue Warnings for Wadden Sea Shipping Route

The Netherlands Coastguard has specified which ships are subject to the Dutch Safety Board’s warning on the shipping route north of the Wadden Islands (Terschelling – German Bight) that was issued on Thursday, 31 October. Ships over 300 metres long and over forty meters wide run the risk of hitting the seabed at a wave height of five metres or more.

On Thursday, the Dutch Safety Board issued an interim warning to the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, the Coastguard and shipowners about the use of very large vessels on the southern shipping route near the Wadden Islands. The warning follows from the investigation into the MSC Zoe accident. During bad weather, hundreds of containers were thrown overboard from that ship. Earlier, Dutch TV programme Zembla had already concluded from its own research that the MSC Zoe lost its containers on the route because it hit the seabed.

In a statement, the Dutch Safety Board claimed that ‘on the basis of preliminary model calculations and basin tests, it appears that certain wind and wave conditions and tides on this route can lead to large heave and roll motions, which endanger the safe distance between the ship and the seabed. For ships similar in size to MSC Zoe, there is a risk of contact or near-contact with the seabed.’

Navigation Message

The Coastguard then decided the specify the warning issued by the Dutch Safety Board by stating to which ships and in what conditions this warning applies as stated above. The organisation advises these ships to take a different route when they come across heavy weather on the Terschelling – German Bight route. The Coastguard has included the warning in a navigation message for shipping.

The Dutch Safety Board is currently still investigating the accident with the MSC Zoe and expect to publish a final report at the beginning of 2020.

Source: ANP / Dutch Safety Board

Picture by Kees Torn.

Author: Mariska Buitendijk

Mariska Buitendijk is one of SWZ|Maritime's journalists as well as the magazine's copy editor.