Close-quarters situation between ro-ro passenger ferry Maersk Dover, crude carrier Apollonia and container vessel Maersk Vancouver

Location: Dover Strait off the south east coast of England.

Accident Investigation Report 9/2007

Read our marine accident investigation report, which includes what happened, actions taken, and recommendations:

MaerskDoverReport.pdf (1,843.52 kb)

Annexes (1,529.81 kb)


At 0735 on 17 October 2006, the officer of the watch (OOW) onboard the ro-ro passenger ferry Maersk Dover, which was en route from Dover to Dunkerque, received a VHF radio call from a deep sea pilot onboard the tanker Apollonia, telling him that Maersk Dover was passing too close. At that time, the two vessels were 1.9nm apart and, until then, Maersk Dover’s OOW was unaware of Apollonia’s presence, 40 degrees on his starboard bow. The situation was exacerbated by the presence of a third vessel, Maersk Vancouver, which was overtaking Apollonia on her port side. Maersk Dover was making 21 knots. A close-quarters situation developed. Maersk Dover took last minute avoiding action, passing 5 cables ahead of Maersk Vancouver and 1 cable astern of Apollonia.

Safety Issues

  • this accident occurred as a result of poor watchkeeping practices, and the OOW becoming distracted by an incoming SAT C message
  • the OOW choosing to sit on the footrest was ill advised as his view of the horizon was obstructed by bridge equipment
  • once the QM had commenced manual steering, the OOW’s lack of direct helm orders was inappropriate and could have resulted in the QM inadvertently compounding the situation


Multiple recommendations have been made to Maersk Marine Services as a result of this investigation.

This report was published on 17 May 2007.

Published 23 January 2015