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Thursday, July 16, 2020 

The UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has published its report into an incident in November 2018 in the North Channel between Scotland and Norther Ireland, when the officer of the watch on ferry ‘Stena Superfast VII’ took urgent action to avoid a submerged submarine after its periscope had been spotted close ahead.

Post-event analysis showed that, prior to the ferry’s course alteration, there had been a serious risk of collision. This near miss happened because the submarine’s control room team had underestimated the ferry’s speed and overestimated its range, resulting in an unsafe situation developing. However, the submarine’s control room electronic tactical display presented a picture of a safer situation than reality; this meant that safety-critical decisions made on board the submarine may have appeared rational at the time.

The report identified three safety Issues

  • safety-critical decisions need to be made based on accurate information
  • passage planning should identify all potential hazards and effective mitigations
  • maintaining a good lookout is vital for the safety of all vessels

Following the Royal Navy's action taken in response to this and similar previous accidents, MAIB has recommended that the Royal Navy undertakes an independent review to ensure that the actions have been effective in reducing the risk of further collision.

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