The UK MAIB issued an investigation report on the grounding of the general cargo vessel ‘Islay Trader’, off Margate, Kent, UK, in October 2017. The report highlights the importance of planning when going to anchor and the requirement for ensuring that an effective watch is kept whilst at anchor.
During the morning of 8 October 2017, the Barbados registered Islay Trader began dragging its anchor. The ship’s officer of the watch (OOW) attempted to reposition the vessel without the assistance of the master. The OOW subsequently became overwhelmed, uncertain of the ship’s position and at 0242 the vessel grounded near Margate beach. The vessel re-floated approximately 12 hours later. The following day, Islay Trader proceeded to Antwerp, Belgium to discharge cargo before continuing to Dordrecht, Netherlands, for inspection and repair. The vessel sustained indentations to its bow and bent frames, but there were no injuries and no pollution.
The UK MAIB investigation identified:
- The vessel dragged its anchor because the length of anchor cable used was insufficient in the tidal conditions experienced
- The chief officer did not monitor the vessel’s position and was not aware that the vessel had dragged its anchor until alerted by the London Vessel Traffic Service
- The master was not told that the vessel had dragged its anchor, because the chief officer did not want to disturb him, and he was confident he could reposition the vessel himself.
- After weighing anchor, the chief officer soon became uncertain of the vessel’s position and was overwhelmed by the situation.
- The navigational practices onboard Islay Trader were adversely impacted by the pressures resulting from having only 2 bridge watchkeepers.
- Interventions by the London Vessel Traffic Service that were intended to stop the vessel from grounding were timely and appropriate.
A recommendation has been made to Islay Trader’s owner and manager, Faversham Ships Ltd, to take measures to help ensure that navigation and bridge watchkeeping practices on board its vessels are maintained to an acceptable standard, focusing on, inter alia:
- The impact of operational pressures and demands on board vessels with only two bridge watchkeepers
- The conduct of anchorage planning and anchor watches
- The recognition of circumstances warranting the master’s input and oversight.
Faversham Ships Ltd has:
- Conducted its own investigation, which highlighted that the working practices on board the vessel were not as expected.
- Issued a fleet circular to inform its masters of the circumstances of this accident and to emphasise the importance of adherence to onboard procedures.
- Replaced the master and employed an additional navigation officer onboard Islay Trader during November 2017.
- Renamed Islay Trader to Neptune and transferred the vessel to the UK ship register.
Find out more by reading the full report: