The UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch, issued an investigation report concerning the grounding of the cargo vessel Priscilla in Pentland Skerries, Pentland Firth, Scotland in 18 July 2018. Although the grounding caused significant hull damage, there was no pollution or injury.
The Netherlands-registered general cargo vessel Priscilla grounded on Pentland Skerries in the eastern entrance of Pentland Firth in Scotland at 04:43 on 18 July 2018. The grounding caused a substantial damage to the hull of the vessel, yet no pollution or injury was reported.
The officer responded to two verbal warnings from shore authorities of the danger ahead. Yet, the action taken in response to these warnings was not effective and further indicated that he did not have adequate understanding of the situation and was not in the position to escape danger.
The ship was then able to refloat after seven days and a partial removal of cargo.
While approaching Pentland Firth, the ship was heading south of its planned track, but the officer of the watch was not in the place to respond. In fact, it is estimated that the officer was not monitoring the ship’s progress for almost 2 hours. Instead, it is reported that he was sitting in the bridge chair watching videos. It can also be the case that he was falling asleep periodically.
Also, there was plenty of time to regain the planned route when the officer of the watch realized that Priscilla was off track. Instead, he decided to follow an alternative route that placed the vessel in imminent danger relying only on radar data and not referring to navigational information when making the crucial decision.
Moreover, as there were no navigational alarms to warn of danger, no additional lookout was posted, even though the accident occurred at night. Also, the navigational watch alarm system of the bridge was switched off.
The owner of Priscilla together with Amsys, carried out an investigation aiming to find what caused the accident. It was pinpointed that the accident may have been caused due to the inappropriate use of a mobile phone by the OOW; the BNWAS not being in use; the ECDIS safety features, especially the warning sector and safety corridor values, not being used.
Moreover, the owner amended the SMS to include instructions for the BNWAS to be present from pilot station to pilot station; include ECDIS limits for safety depth, safety contour and warning sector in the voyage plan; use the master’s order book, as well as checking the readiness of the OOW; the prohibition of mobile phones by the OOWs, as well as the posting of dedicated lookouts. The SMS also contained updated instructions on voyage planning, a revised voyage planning checklist and all officers were required to undertake further ECDIS familiarization.
Furthermore, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency went on with the analysis of the recommendations and findings from the Marico Marine review of the Pentland Firth vessel traffic reporting scheme; carried out an internal investigation into this accident, which identified the need for additional staff training. A VTM training analysis across the network was further conducted and a VTM policy across the network for local awareness and local training initiatives was re-issued.
Lastly, the Agency conducted a procedure was initiated at 0900 and 2100 daily, where all CGOCs call into a network briefing conference call hosted by a network controller at NMOC. During this call each CGOC must now provide a formalized positive statement that their individual zones are being monitored.
The owner of Priscilla is then advised to review and improve the safety management system and standards of watchkeeping aboard the vessel, safeguarding that all aspects of the voyage plan are compliant with the IMO guide; impose an internal audit regime to effectively supervise safety management; record hours of rest accurately for all crew members; effectively utilize all methods for fixing the vessel’s position. Lastly, the crew must be prevented from undertaking duties for which they are not qualified and a thorough risk assessment must be undertaken prior to making the decision to reduce to only one watchkeeper.
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