Contact made by ro-ro cargo ferry Celtic Star with light float

Location: C22 light float on the River Mersey, England.

Completed PE Summary: Celtic Star

A short summary of the accident and action taken:

Merchant Vessel/Accident Details
Vessel Name Celtic Star
Registered Owner Eptanisos Maritime Limited, Cyprus
Manager Jay Management Limited, Athens
Port of Registry Limassol
Flag Cyprus
Type Ro-ro cargo vessel
Built 1991
Classification Society Korea Register
Construction Steel
Length Overall 136m
Gross Tonnage 11086
Date/Time 01/02/2010, 2211 (UTC)
Location of Incident C22 light float, River Mersey
Incident Type Contact
Persons Onboard 21 crew and 12 freight passengers
Injuries/Fatalities None
Damage/Pollution C22 light float damaged and severed from its mooring


At 2211 on 1 February 2010, the ro-ro cargo ferry Celtic Star hit the C22 light float while navigating the River Mersey, towards Liverpool. In accordance with usual practice, the vessel had reduced speed and manoeuvred to the eastern side of the river in preparation for her entry into Gladstone Lock. The tidal stream in the river was flooding at about 3.5 knots and the wind was westerly at 20 knots.

As the ferry neared C22, the diesel alternator supplying the bow thruster shut down. The chief engineer briefed the master on the consequences of the failure and how the problem could be fixed. This distracted the master, who became overloaded at a critical time and did not notice that the vessel was being set onto the light float until it was very close. Although the tried to manoeuvre the vessel clear using engines and full rudder, the action was taken too late and was unsuccessful. The vessel struck the light float with her port quarter at a speed of about 6 knots; the float was severed from its moorings and was later recovered 4 miles upriver.

Celtic Star was quickly anchored before being taken in tow by two nearby tugs. Prompt action by the port ensured that the vessel was quickly loaded in and secured alongside. The vessel was undamaged.

The lack of a briefing before entering the main channel was a missed opportunity to draw the team’s attention to the effect on the vessel, particularly when both engines were stopped

Under utilisation of the officer of the watch within the bridge organization resulted in over reliance placed upon the master’s own abilities. As soon as he became distracted, the officer of the watch was unable to advise him that the vessel was running into danger because the vessel’s position had not been properly monitored.

Actions taken

The Deputy Chief Inspector has written to the Jay Management Corporation highlighting the importance of conducting a briefing before entering port and strongly advising:

  • Senior deck officers complete recognised bridge resource management training.
  • The company’s internal audits examine procedures in the safety management system which could lead to complacent practices.
  • A written procedure is included in the vessel’s safety management system to assist crews when they are required to save the data contained on the vessel’s VDR.

Published: 5 March 2010

Published 23 January 2015