On Sunday 8 June 2014, the dredger Shoreway was in collision with the sailing yacht Orca. Orca, a 31 foot Moody sailing yacht suffered catastrophic damage and sank within minutes. There was no damage to the dredger. The skipper of the yacht was rescued from the water by Shoreway’s rescue boat. The body of his wife was recovered from the sunken yacht by divers the following day. A postmortem concluded that the cause of
death was by drowning.
Due to the dredger’s bow-mounted discharge equipment, the yacht was unseen until seconds before the collision. The risk of other vessels, especially small craft, not being detected in the blind sector on Shoreway has never been assessed by the company or crew. The risk was not mentioned in the vessel’s computer based fleet-wide safety management system which was generic and of little benefit to the ship’s crew as it contained no vessel-specific information or guidance.
The MAIB investigation identified that neither the chief officer on watch on the dredger nor the skipper of the yacht were maintaining a proper lookout in the period immediately prior to the collision.
The key safety issues identified were:
The chief officer was alone on the bridge at the time of the collision, the skipper of Orca was below deck in the cabin, and neither were maintaining a proper lookout in the period immediately prior to the collision.
The risks of vessels, especially small craft, not being detected in the blind sector on Shoreway had never been assessed by the company or the crew and the blind sector was not mentioned in the master’s standing orders or the vessel’s SMS.
Leisure boat users should never assume they have been seen by other vessels, nor should they assume that the other vessels will always take avoiding action.
Leisure sailors need to be particularly aware of closing speeds between their own vessels and other vessels. In this case, Shoreway was travelling at 12.9 knots but many types of vessels, including ferries, cruise ships and container ships, regularly sail at speeds over 25kts and, as a result, distances that initially appear sufficient can be reduced surprisingly quickly.
MAIB has made recommendation 2015/125 to Boskalis Westminster Shipping B.V. aimed at improving its vessels’ safety management systems and addressing a technical issue regarding Shoreway’s VDR.