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Thursday, February 6, 2020 

The UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has published its Investigation report into the grounding of a ro-ro vessel owned by Seatruck Ferries in Carlingford Lough, Northern Ireland, on 8 May 2019.

The Isle of Man registered ro-ro freight vessel Seatruck Performance grounded while transiting the Greenore Channel in Carlingford Lough, Northern Ireland, soon after departing Warrenpoint for passage to Heysham, England. The ferry quickly developed a 7° list but was able to return to Warrenpoint without assistance and there were no injuries to its 11 passengers and 22 crew, or any pollution.

An underwater inspection of Seatruck Performance on 9 May identified significant damage to the ferry’s port side, including a 10m tear in way of No 4 void space and No 8 heeling tank, on the turn of the bilge. Both spaces were flooded to the waterline. The ferry was out of service for three weeks.

The MAIB investigation identified that the ferry’s outbound passage had not been sufficiently planned and, specifically, the effects of squat had not been adequately considered; the electronic navigation system was not being used effectively; and the newly appointed master, who was mainly navigating by eye, was not being effectively supported by the other officers on the bridge. The report identified the following safety issues:

  • the potential for squat was not considered when calculating the ferry’s under keel clearance before departure, or when considering its speed
  • shallow water effects were experienced as the ferry approached the intended alteration, which affected both heading and speed, due to the under keel clearance and the proximity of a charted bank on the south side of the channel
  • the master was steering by hand, which reduced his ability to maintain an overview of the situation, and a lack of support from the bridge team made him a single point of failure
  • the navigational practices being used by Seatruck Performance’s bridge team did not fully incorporate the electronic aids available and were insufficient to assure the vessel’s safe outbound passage, at night, through the Greenore Channel

MAIB noted that Seatruck Performance’s owner and manager, Seatruck Ferries, has taken action to raise awareness of shallow water effects and improve onboard passage planning. MAIB has recommended the company to take further measures to ensure the safe navigation of its vessels by optimising its use of electronic navigation systems and enhancing its Bridge Resource Management training.

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