On 29 August 2015, in daylight and good visibility, the cargo ship Daroja and the bunker barge Erin Wood collided just east of Peterhead, Scotland. Erin Wood was badly damaged and its crew put in danger; there was also some minor pollution from leaking fuel cargo. The accident happened because a proper lookout was not being kept on either vessel. This meant that watchkeepers in both vessels were unaware of the risk of
collision and took no action to avoid the other ship.
Erin Wood post-collision with Daroja standing by (photo: RNLI)
Avoiding collision starts with keeping a good lookout in order to detect other vessels and assess the situation. This is a key principle of safe navigation and should be maintained by all ships at all times.
Similar to previous MAIB investigations, this accident highlights the potential consequences when the risks associated with the Officer of the Watch (OOW) being the sole lookout are not effectively addressed.
A high standard of watchkeeping involves using all the information available on the bridge to build and maintain a good picture. In this case radar, visual and Automatic Identification System (AIS) information could have been utilised more effectively on both ships.
The flooding of Erin Wood happened because the vessel was underway with both the upper deck weathertight doors open. Care should always be taken at sea and watertight or weathertight doors should not be left open unnecessarily.
Safety recommendations (2016/156 and 2016/157) have been made to the managers of both vessels intended to raise the standards of watchkeeping at sea. A recommendation (2016/155) has also been made to the St Kitts and Nevis International Ship Registry regarding the inspection of new vessels joining the flag.