Loss of control and grounding of ro-ro passenger ferry Hebrides

Location: Lochmaddy, North Uist, Scotland.

Accident Investigation Report 20/2017

Investigation report into marine accident including what happened and safety lessons learned:

MAIB investigation report 20-2017: Hebrides

Annexes to MAIB investigation report 20-2017: Hebrides

Photograph of Hebrides aground courtesy of Scottish TV News

Hebrides aground (photo: Scottish TV News)


On 25 September 2016, the ro-ro passenger ferry Hebrides was approaching Lochmaddy, North Uist, Scotland when control of the ferry’s port controllable pitch propeller was lost. The master attempted to control the ferry’s movements but he was unable to prevent it from running over several mooring pontoons and briefly grounding. There were no injuries but the ferry was damaged and had to be taken out of service and repaired in dry dock.

Safety lessons

  • the loss of control was caused by the loosening of a setscrew (grub screw) within a servomotor assembly
  • thread locking compound had not been used to secure the setscrew
  • service instructions for the maintenance of the servomotor were not available to ship’s engineers or shore-based service engineers
  • an alarm system that had been recommended by the control system manufacturer had not been fitted
  • the bridge and engine control room teams were not sufficiently prepared or practiced to deal effectively with a loss of control in confined waters


Rolls-Royce Marine (2017/136) is recommended to verify its processes to ensure that service and inspection instructions provided by the original equipment manufacturers of the components used in its control systems are available to its service engineers and in the documentation provided to vessels.

CalMac Ferries Ltd (2017/137) is recommended to implement procedures that:

  • document and process recommendations for safety critical system upgrades received from manufacturers
  • introduce drills and contingency plans to better prepare its crews to deal with propulsion failures
Published 14 September 2017