Collision between oil tanker British Trent and bulk carrier Western Winner resulting in fire on British Trent with loss of 9 lives

Location: Near Akkaert Bank, Belgium.

Accident Investigation Report: British Trent/Western Winner

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



On 3 June 1993 at 0543, the British Trent and Western Winner were in collision in a position 1.22 miles east of the south-west Akkaert Buoy. Both vessels’ hulls were opened up at their port fore-ends and the cargo which spilled from British Trent immediately caught fire. The result of the fire was that British Trent had to be abandoned. Seven of the crew were taken off by pilot launches and the remainder of the crew expected to leave the vessel using the starboard lifeboat. This was frustrated when that side of the vessel became enveloped in smoke and flame forcing the crew to jump into the sea amongst patches of burning cargo. Twenty crew were rescued from the sea by the pilot launches but nine died as a result of smoke inhalation. Nine lives were lost.

Safety Issues

  • failure to comply with the International Regulations for the Prevention of Collisions at Sea, in conditions of restricted visibility
  • Western Winner is considered not to have proceeded at a safe speed, not to have kept an effective lookout and not to have made proper use of radar given the conditions of restricted visibility that existed
  • British Trent did not make proper use of her radar and assumptions were made about the actions of approaching vessels
  • the Master of Western Winner was unfamiliar with the area and appeared not to have prepared a passage plan
  • judgement of both Masters may have been impaired because of fatigue and stress


Multiple recommendations have been made to The Bermuda Registry of Shipping as a result of this investigation.

This report was published on 21 April 1995.

Published 23 January 2015