Parting of stern line from ro-ro passenger ferry Pride of Calais

Location: Berthed at the Port of Dover, England.

Completed PE Summary: Pride of Calais

A short summary of the accident and action taken:

Merchant Vessel/Accident Details
Vessel Name Pride of Calais
Registered Owner/Manager P&O Ferries Ltd
Port of Registry Dover
Flag UK
Type Ro-ro passenger ferry
Built 1986
Classification Society Lloyds Register
Construction Steel
Length Overall 169.6m
Gross Tonnage 26433
Date/Time 21/02/06, 1838
Location of Incident Dover
Incident Type Machinery Failure
Injuries/Fatalities None
Damage/Pollution None


The Ro-Ro ferry Pride of Calais was allocated a lay-by berth at the Eastern Arm in Dover to carry out defect maintenance. The ship moored at 1430 using a mix of ropes and wires. The forward moorings comprised 2 head lines, 3 breasts lines (1 wire and 1 rope on a bight) and 3 back springs (1 wire and 1 rope on a bight). The after moorings were arranged with 2 wire stern lines, 2 breast lines (1 wire and 1 rope) and 2 back springs (1 wire and 1 rope). The ropes on the forward mooring deck were left on the winch warping drum ends and backed up on bitts with figure of eight turns around a single bitt.

Throughout the afternoon the wind was north easterly at 34 knots. At about 1810, broken strands were found on one of the after stern wires. A decision was made to replace the wire but no consideration was given to sending out an additional wire prior to removing the damaged one. At 1834, whilst the damaged wire was being replaced, a ferry entered the eastern breakwater, the wind increased to 37 knots and the single remaining stern wire parted. This resulted in the ship’s stern leaving the quay, the gangway being dragged off the quay and the forward breast rope parting. In the meantime, the remaining 2 after wires ran off the winch drums as the brakes rendered. Weight then came onto the after ropes which caused the drum ends to rotate the winch motor backwards because the ropes were not properly backed up on bitts. This caused the winch motor casings to become over-pressurised due to shock loading, causing them to fracture.

Fortunately a tug was in the immediate vicinity and a short time later the vessel was re-secured alongside.

Action taken

The Chief Inspector has acknowledged a series of measures taken by P&O Ferries to prevent re-occurrence of this accident. However, the Chief Inspector has also advised against the practice, where possible, of;

  • Routinely leaving ropes on drum ends in favour of securing ropes on bitts

  • Mixing ropes and wires for the same type of mooring i.e breast, stern, head and spring lines.

Published 23 January 2015