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Thursday, October 3, 2019 

The UK's Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has issued its report into the grounding of a general cargo vessel off the Scottish coast.

On 18 July 2018, the Netherlands registered general cargo vessel Priscilla ran aground on Pentland Skerries, Scotland. For about two hours prior to the accident, the officer of the watch (OOW) had been unaware that Priscilla was drifting away from the planned passage. When the OOW realised what had happened, the route chosen to regain the navigational plan resulted in the vessel heading directly into danger.

The accident happened because the OOW was distracted from the critical task of monitoring the passage by watching videos on his mobile phone. He was the sole lookout at night as the vessel headed towards land, and the electronic navigation system was not set up to warn of danger ahead. Priscilla’s OOW also responded to two radio calls from shore authorities warning of the danger ahead; however, his reaction to the warnings was not sufficient to avoid danger.

MAIB suggests the following safety lessons

  • monitoring the vessel’s progress along the planned passage is a vital component of safe navigation, and the OOW should not become distracted from this responsibility
  • reducing to a sole lookout must be properly assessed; it was not appropriate at night when Priscilla was heading towards Pentland Firth
  • electronic navigation aids should always be set up to aid the OOW by giving warning of danger ahead. The BNWAS should not be left off at sea

As a result, a safety recommendation has been made to the owner of Priscilla to take measures necessary to improve the standards of watchkeeping and safety management on board.

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