Grounding of general cargo vessel Sunna

Location: Island of Swona, Orkney, Scotland.

Completed PE Summary: Sunna

A short summary of the accident and action taken:

Merchant Vessel/Accident Details
Vessel name Sunna
Registered Owner/Manager Sunna Shipping Company Ltd. Cyprus
Port of registry Oslo
Flag Norwegian International Shipping (NIS )
Type General cargo vessel
Built 1977
Classification Society Germanischer Lloyd
Construction Steel
Length Overall 79.15m
Gross Tonnage 1980
Date/Time 02/01/2007, 0432 (UTC)
Location of Incident Swona Island, Orkney Islands
Incident Type Grounding
Persons Onboard 7
Injuries/Fatalities None
Damage/Pollution Extensive damage/Minor pollution


The general cargo ship Sunna grounded on the island of Swona, in the Orkney Islands, Scotland, whilst transiting the Pentland Firth in good visibility and moderate conditions. The chief officer had been on watch alone, and had fallen asleep around 1½ hours before the vessel impacted the rocky coastline at just under 10 knots, causing extensive damage to all double bottom tanks forward of the engine room and flooding to the double bottom. A cargo of 1900 tonnes of Ferro Silicon was embarked, which can emit flammable and toxic gases, when exposed to moisture. Fortunately no water ingress to the hold occurred.

The local lifeboat, two harbour tugs and the MCA’s Emergency Towing Vessel were deployed to the scene, but the vessel refloated without assistance on the rising tide at around 0650. The harbour tugs then towed the vessel into Lyness, Hoy, where booms were deployed to prevent dispersion of minor pollution from a ruptured diesel tank.

Action taken

The Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents has written to the:

Norwegian Maritime Directorate, bringing to their attention a number of issues, in particular:

  • Only the captain and chief officer kept navigational watches, utilising a 6 on, 6 off system, which contributed to the latter’s fatigue;

  • Dedicated lookouts were not being used on the vessel during the hours of darkness contrary to the requirements of STCW;

  • No bridge watch alarm was fitted to the vessel;

  • Poor on board navigational practices;

  • Ship’s operator, strongly advising that it ensures that the issues identified above are addressed on its vessels.

Published 23 January 2015