Dragging anchor on multiple occasions by ro-ro passenger vessel Ropax 1 and contact made with refinery monobuoy

Location: Algeciras Bay, Spain.

Completed PE Summary: Ropax 1

A short summary of the accident and action taken:

Merchant Vessel/Accident Details
Vessel Name Ropax 1
Manager ASP Ship Management Ltd
Ship Owner Ropax 1 KS Norway
Port of Registry London
Flag UK
Classification Society DNV
Type Ro-ro passenger ferry
Built 1980
Construction Steel
Length Overall 192.59m
Gross Tonnage 33163
Date/Time 13/12/2008, 2130 (local time)
Location of Incident Algeciras Bay, Spain
Incident Type Contact
Persons Onboard: 23
Injuries/Fatalities None
Damage/Pollution Vessel holed


Ropax 1 had spent some time drifting to the east of Gibraltar, waiting for orders, during which the master had attempted to anchor the ship off the Spanish coast. This was unsuccessful and the vessel dragged due to insufficient cable for the depth of water. When the vessel subsequently entered Algeciras for an inspection by prospective charterers, she was detained on arrival for anchoring in Spanish waters without permission.

Ropax 1 was then formally allocated an anchorage off Algeciras, but dragged her anchor twice in ‘C’ anchorage before being allocated to the more sheltered ‘B’ anchorage on 29 November. The anchorage position was 4 cables from a fish farm and 5 cables from a refinery monobuoy, and due to the proximity of these hazards the master restricted the amount of cable used to 6 shackles on deck, in 35 metres of water.

The ship lay at anchor until 13 December, when the weather deteriorated and the ship again dragged anchor and made contact with the monobuoy. A pilot boarded the vessel and with tug assistance was able to clear her from the monobuoy and berth her in Algeciras. The following day an underwater survey discovered two holes in the ship’s side below the waterline.

Action taken

The Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents has written to the managers of Ropax 1 identifying the following safety issues:

  • The poor standards of anchorage planning on board, including repeated use of insufficient cable, with the result that the ship dragged anchor frequently.

  • The failure to get underway in good time to avert dragging, and once dragging was detected the inadequate response such that contact with the monobuoy could not be averted.

  • The bridge team had limited knowledge of the company SMS, and were unaware of any instructions, apart from the master’s standing orders, for the safe navigation of the ship.

Published: February 2009

Published 23 January 2015