Grounding and sinking of tug Vanguard

Location: Off the west coast of Scotland.

Completed PE Summary: Vanguard

A short summary of the accident and action taken:

Registered Owner & Manager:   Carmet Tug Co.Ltd
Port of registry:   Liverpool
Flag:   UK
Type:   Tug
Built:   1965
Classification society:   Lloyds Register
Length overall:   38.71
Gross tonnage:   296.00
Date & Time   07/09/04 16:36
Location of incident:   Scottish Coastal Waters
Incident Type:   Grounding
Injuries/ fatalities:   None
Damage/ Pollution:   Constructive Total Loss


A 39-metre sea going tug was taking a familiar passage on the north-coast of a Scottish island in order to rendezvous with a vessel. During the passage the skipper decided to take an inshore route between the island and some rocks and shoal patches that were a few cables offshore. This was unnecessary, as there was plenty of time to follow the normal route that took the vessel well clear of all dangers. The skipper did not know his precise position and the vessel grounded on a submerged rock, which was to port of the track he had intended to take. He put the engine astern and was able to get clear. The passage was resumed, but a new course was chosen to pass well clear of dangers.

The engine room flooded and about half an hour later the vessel was deliberately grounded on a gently rocky shore. The crew were evacuated safely to boats, but after a while the vessel listed over and was a constructive total loss.

Action taken

To prevent a similar accident occurring in the future, the master was recommended to undertake the following on any ship that he served on or owned:

  • Ensure the principles of safe passage planning are applied whenever the vessel is at sea.

  • Ensure that a designated lookout is posted on the bridge at night and during the day when passing close to navigational hazards.A lookout should also be posted during the day in poor visibility or heavy traffic conditions or at other times when the operational/navigational demands on the officer of the watch warrants it.

  • Undertake a small vessels navigation and radar course. The training should include instruction in modern navigational techniques, such as parallel indexing.

Help us improve GOV.UK

Don’t include personal or financial information, eg your National Insurance number or credit card details.