Failure of main engine on product tanker Audacity and subsequent parting of tow rope from tug Red Wolf with 1 person injured

Location: Engine failure, 8nm East of Flamborough Head, England. Injury, 1nm east of Fairway buoy off Aberdeen, Scotland.

Completed PE Summary: Audacity

Vessel name   Audacity
Registered Owner & Manager:   James Fisher Group, Everard Shipping
Port of registry:   London
Flag:   UK
Type:   Products Tanker
Built:   1997
Classification society:   Lloyds Register
Construction:   Steel
Length overall:   88.76m
Gross tonnage:   2965
Date & Time   19/04/07 0030
Location of incident:   Main engine failed 8nm East of Flamborough Head Injury to crewman occurred 1nm East of Fairway buoy off Aberdeen
Incident Type:   Main engine failure followed by an injury to crewman
Persons onboard:   8
Injuries/ fatalities:   1 crewman suffered multiple injuries when a towing messenger parted
Damage/ Pollution:   Main engine lubrication oil cooler failed. No pollution
Vessel name   Red Wolf
Registered Owner & Manager:   Remolcadores de Puerto y Altura SA (REPASA)
Port of registry:   Santa Cruz de Tenerife
Flag:   Spain
Type:   Multi purpose tug
Built:   2005
Construction:   Steel
Length overall:   35.17m
Gross tonnage:   476gt
Date & Time   21/04/07 0728
Location of incident:   1nm East of Fairway buoy off Aberdeen
Persons onboard:   6
Injuries/ fatalities:   None
Damage/ Pollution:   None


Audacity had been previously been involved in a collision which had damaged the vessel’s bow. Temporary repairs had been completed and the vessel had dispensation to sail from Immingham to Aberdeen to discharge cargo and then onwards to a repair port. A few hours after leaving Immingham, the main engine had to be shut down when the oil cooler developed a serious leak. The cooler could not be repaired and there were no alternative arrangements to either cool the oil or provide emergency propulsion, consequently the vessel had to be taken in tow by the tug Red Wolf.

The damage to Audacity’s bow prevented a single tow wire from being used and the tug prepared a bridle to attach to bollards on the forecastle deck. The tow was uneventful until arrival at Aberdeen where arrangements had been made to anchor off the fairway bouy whilst technicians came onboard to repair the oil cooler. On arrival, Audacity began to slip the tow using the vessel’s mooring ropes as messengers in preparation for anchoring. A combination of the weight of the tow, the mooring lines becoming caught in their storage drums and the tug moving ahead to prevent the tow fouling her propellers, overloaded the connection between Audacity’s messenger and the towing gear. The connection failed, causing the messenger to recoil onto the forecastle of Audacity, striking one of her crewmen who suffered serious injury.

Action taken

The Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents has written to the: Owner and Managers of Audacity, strongly advising that they

  • Review the shipboard planning and execution of unusual and emergency seamanship procedures such as towing and develop robust procedures to recognise areas where personnel lack sufficient specialist skills and experience to conduct tasks safely. In such cases, implement appropriate measures to provide additional guidance and support to crews;

  • Emphasise the need for effective communications to be maintained between company vessels and tugs, or other vessels, engaged in towing.

Additionally, they should recognise the potential for the concentration and performance of crew who have been involved in accidents to diminish and, if necessary, make early arrangements for them to be relieved without prejudice to blame or liability.

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