Grounding of general cargo vessel Priscilla

Location: Pentland Skerries, Pentland Firth, Scotland.

Accident Investigation Report 12/2019

Investigation report into marine accident including what happened, safety lessons learned and the recommendation made:

MAIB investigation report 12-2019: Priscilla

Annexes to MAIB investigation report 12-2019: Priscilla

General cargo vessel Priscilla aground - Image courtesy of the RNLI

Image courtesy of the RNLI


On 18 July 2018, the Netherlands registered general cargo vessel Priscilla ran aground on Pentland Skerries, Scotland. For about 2 hours prior to the accident, the officer of the watch had been unaware that Priscilla was drifting away from the planned passage. When the officer of the watch realised what had happened, the route chosen to regain the navigational plan resulted in the vessel heading directly into danger. The accident happened because the officer of the watch was distracted from the critical task of monitoring the passage by watching videos on his mobile phone. He was the sole lookout at night as the vessel headed towards land, and the electronic navigation system was not set up to warn of danger ahead. Priscilla’s officer or the watch also responded to two radio calls from shore authorities warning of the danger ahead; however, his reaction to the warnings was not sufficient to avoid danger.

Safety lessons

  • monitoring the vessel’s progress along the planned passage is a vital component of safe navigation, and the officer of the watch should not become distracted from this responsibility

  • reducing to a sole lookout must be properly assessed; it was not appropriate at night when Priscilla was heading towards Pentland Firth

  • electronic navigation aids should always be set up to aid the officer of the watch by giving warning of danger ahead. The BNWAS should not be left off at sea


A safety recommendation (2019/118) has been made to the owner of Priscilla to take measures necessary to improve the standards of watchkeeping and safety management on board.

Published 3 October 2019