Mauritania - Precautions to take during calls at the port of Nouakchott

published on 24 January 2023 27 -

Original Text by West P&I Club


The seaport of Nouakchott, Mauritania, is experiencing problems related to wind and swell, risks of grounding due to unreliable berth depths, harbour infrastructure damage claims, an acceptance of the vessel's draught survey figures and shortage claims.

From December through to March (the worst period of February and March), strong currents and swells affect vessels moored to the dry and tanker cargo berths as there is no breakwater protection. These conditions can cause vessels to leave the berth and proceed to anchorage until the weather improves.

Subsequently, the Master must perform a risk assessment and discuss with the Harbour Master whether it is safe for the vessel to enter and stay in the port with the forecasted weather condition during her call. Tugs are compulsory when entering the port, with two 900 hp and one 2026 hp tug available. However, if vessels are required to leave the port due to weather issues or require tug assistance to keep her alongside, reporting suggests that the tug assistance is minimal and will only stand by from a distance.

When alongside, the crew must regularly monitor the vessel's mooring arrangement and tend to the mooring lines as required in keeping with the current and forecasted weather conditions. The Master must perform a risk assessment to determine if additional mooring lines are needed to maintain the vessel safely remain alongside. In deteriorating weather conditions, the accommodation ladder should be closely monitored, with the crew considering raising the accommodation ladder to prevent any potential damage to the ladder and quayside structures.

Risk of grounding

The charted depths information of the port may be inaccurate, as evidenced by a recent case whereby a vessel was found aground at low tide at Berth No.3 even though her draughts were within the parameters of the berth depths.

We recommend:


During Inbound/Outbound Transits:

  • Request from the local protective agent the latest channel and berth depths and when these were last dredging and de-silting had occurred.

  • Obtain the latest information on the navigational situation from local port authorities and local agents before arrival/departure.

  • Comply with the maximum permissible sailing draught for the berth of destination/departure.

  • Prepare a detailed passage plan for the entire passage in advance and ensure that the bridge team reviews this, and the Master must approve it.

  • Additionally, tidal conditions should be reviewed from Admiralty Tide Tables and made part of the vessel's passage plan to determine available Under Keel Clearance (UKC) and currents that may affect the vessel.

  • Discuss and agree on the execution of the pilotage with the pilot during the Master/Pilot exchange.

  • Keep the speed of the vessel below the maximum permitted. Consider the effect of the vessel's speed on hull squat and the subsequent reduction on the vessel's UKC.

  • Check the echo sounder regularly, ensuring that the minimum set depth parameters allow sufficient time to react when the alarm sounds.

  • Closely monitor the pilot's instructions, always keeping in mind that the Master is responsible for the vessel's safe navigation, even with a pilot on the bridge. The bridge team should challenge any instructions contrary to the vessel's safety and, if necessary, take immediate action to ensure the vessel's safe passage.

Alongside the berth:

  • Acquire the tidal information for the entire duration of the vessel's stay, verify against the Admiralty Tide Tables, and have this information readily available/displayed.

  • Confirm on arrival and then routinely assess the berth's water depth and bottom composition using a lead line.

  • Monitor the vessel's draught, list and trim at regular intervals, especially during low-water tidal periods.

  • Regulate/control the list and trim of the vessel to maintain as close to an even keel profile as possible.

  • Check that the loading quantity and cargo distribution arrangements amongst the cargo holds allows full compliance with the maximum sailing draught and UKC requirements.

Berth condition

A reported tendency is for the Port Authority to present claims for existing damages to the port infrastructure where the vessel receives demands for payment of USD 5,000 for minor cracks to the berths and USD 15,000 for fender damage.

Consequently, to mitigate the potential exposure to such claims, the designated berthing area assigned to the vessel should undergo a joint inspection with the port's representative to establish the actual condition before the vessel arrives alongside.

Suppose damage does occur at the fault of Member's vessel. If damage does occur, we recommend that the crew take all necessary evidence-gathering methods, such as high-resolution photographs, measure the affected area, and estimate the damages. A surveyor may need to be appointed, and the local P&I representative can assist with all claim formalities with the port.

What's your opinion on this?
Login or register to write comments and join the discussion!

Article Get the IMPA Safety Campaign App

by IMPA - International Maritime Pilots’ Association - published on 30 September 2022

The IMPA Safety Survey 2022 is just a few days away! You can submit your reports from 1st to 15th October.


Video Amazing Piloting I How A Pilot Drives The Ship

published on 3 May 2021

A ship may berth port or starboard side on or bow or stem on. The term “berth” refers to the quay, or wharf, or, pier or jetty where the ship comes alongside, but it may also mean a place in which a vessel is moored or anchored.


Video CMA CGM MISSOURI LOA:299.9Mtrs N'bound

published on 6 October 2020

Maritime Pilot , Istanbul Strait , Turkish Straits ,



by - published on 8 June 2020

Recently, Svitzer took an important step towards strengthening its presence in Africa by signing a five-year contract with Nacala Logistics in Mozambique for harbour towage, occasional pilot transfer and potential salvage work in the port of Nacala. At the same time, Svitzer also secured a five-year extension of its current contract with Egyptian LNG assisting the land-based Idku LNG plant with four tugs, two mooring boats and one pilot boat.


Video Maersk Saigon 332.01 meter - tribute to PTP Marine Pilot

published on 27 January 2021



Article New Website

by - published on 30 June 2020

Recently, Herman Broers launched the website
This website’s goal is to increase pilot ladder safety by showing good practice examples regarding the rigging and use of pilot ladder arrangements . Do it right the first time!


Video Timelapse | Ship picks up anchor and proceeds to berth - Singapore straits

published on 18 March 2022

Timelapse of my ship's transit from AEPA Anchorage in eastern Singapore harbour to Universal Terminal Singapore, in the western part of the harbor. The pilot took us out into the traffic lane to avoid inshore traffic. #merchantnavy #deckofficer #tankership #maritime Do enjoy and subscribe for more. Instagram: @officervikrant Facebook: Hi, this is Vikrant. I am a Trainee navigating officer in the merchant navy, soon to be a 3rd officer. Follow me on instagram and...


Video Failed overtaking of another ship in a canal - Port Revel Shiphandling

published on 10 May 2020

Manoeuvring large ships at close quarters and on shallow water is one of the most difficult aspects of shiphandling because of the complex hydraulic interactions depending on the ships' speeds, on the water depth and on lateral restrictions like in canals. Training is conducted both on meeting and on overtaking ships in shallow waters. This video shows how overtaking in a canal can easily fail.
More information:


Video Presenting OpenBridge Design System at DSD2020 in Oslo

published on 6 May 2020

I recently presented the OpenBridge design system at the Design System Day 2020 in Oslo. I talked about what OpenBridge is, how it differs from other design systems and where we are heading.
The conference was moved online due to the Corona virus, so I had to record the presentation using my mobile phone, and get Jon Olav from the lab to add the slides. So - apologize for the home quality of the presentation, but I hope you enjoy learning more about our work!
Since we launched the free...