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Grounding and flooding of ferry – complacency

The UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has published a report into the grounding and flooding of the ro-ro (‘roll on roll off’) ferry Commodore Clipper in the Channel Islands in July 2014. The vessel raked over two granite pinnacles at full sea speed of about 18 knots; its hull was breached and seawater flooded into double-bottom void spaces. The grounding caused a noisy and shuddering vibration, but the crew did not immediately check for damage.

Photograph of Commodore Clipper alongside

The report identifies the following safety issues:

  • Insufficient passage planning meant that the bridge team were unaware of the limits of safe water where the vessel was heading, and so headed into danger without appreciation of the navigational risk. A number of issues were not properly considered:
  • The very low tide;
  • The effect of vessel’squat’ in shallow water at high speed;
  • The accuracy of the chart data.
  • The possibility that the vessel had grounded was denied. In the circumstances of a shuddering vibration, it is important that the crew establish the state of their vessel by searching for damage;
  • The repetitive nature of ferry operations can induce a degree of complacency when planning;
  • The electronic navigation system was not being utilised effectively because safety settings were not appropriate to the local conditions, warnings were ignored and the audible alarm was disabled;
  • The local responsible port authority did not have an effective risk assessment or safety management plan for the conduct of navigation in its statutory pilotage area.

The full report can be downloadedat

Safety Event

Published: 21 September 2015
Download: IMCA SF 13/15

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