Advice for container ships near West Frisian Islands

The Coastguard advises container ships sailing north of the West Frisian Islands during certain weather conditions. Depending on the length of the container ship, the Coastguard advises on the safest route. We send this advice by way of a navigation message and by actively calling up ships by the radio telephone.

Explanation of route advice for container ships in certain weather conditions

In bad weather, the Coastguard gives route advice to container ships sailing north of the West Frisian Islands.

Background

On 2 January 2019, the container ship MSC Zoe lost 342 containers north of the West Frisian Islands. The Dutch Safety Board (Onderzoeksraad voor Veiligheid/OVV) investigated this incident. The Maritime Research Institute Netherlands (MARIN) conducted a follow-up investigation. The OVV states that the risk of container loss is greatest when the direction of the waves is transverse to the ship. This happens when the waves come from north-northwest, perpendicular to the southern shipping route. Statistically, this situation occurs once or a few times a year on the North Sea north of the West Frisian Islands.

Northern and southern route

Shipping routes have been designed on the North Sea. There are two international shipping routes north of the West Frisian Islands, a northern and a southern one. The southern shipping route is about 20 to 30 km off the coast. The northern route has been identified as the mandatory route for a number of categories of tankers carrying oil, liquefied gases or harmful liquid substances.

Advice in case of high waves

Depending on the length of the container ship and the wave height, different advice applies. These route and safety recommendations are based on the studies of the OVV and MARIN. When we give the advice to follow the northern route, the captain is not obliged to follow this advice. The Coastguard has no powers to impose traffic directions.

Container ships between 100 and 200 metres in length

At a wave height of 3 metres or more, these container ships are advised to take the necessary measures and/or sail an alternative course. This advice is intended to prevent the ship from making heavy pendulum movements and thus losing containers.

Container ships longer than 200 metres

At a wave height of 4 metres or more, these container ships are advised to take the northern route. 

Content of the navigation message

At a wave height of 3 metres or more, we send ships the navigation message below. The message is based on the length of the container ship. The message also contains the wave height, direction and frequency.

Wave height warning >300CM TSS TERSCHELLING – GERMAN BIGHT issued at xxxxxx UTC xxx

CONTAINER VESSELS WITH A LENGTH OF 100-200M ARE AT RISK OF LOSING CONTAINERS DURING
HEAVY SEA CONDITIONS, IN PARTICULAR WITH WAVES FROM A WEST-NORTHWEST TO NORTHERLY
DIRECTION.
THESE VESSELS SHOULD ALTER COURSE IF NECESSARY TO AVOID COMING ABEAM TO THE WAVES
AND TAKE OTHER APPROPRIATE MEASURES TO AVOID LOSING CONTAINERS.

Information

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