Structural failure of general cargo vessel Swanland resulting in it sinking with loss of 6 lives

Location: Irish Sea.

Accident Investigation Report 12/2013

Investigation report into marine accident including what happened, safety lessons and recommendations made.

SwanlandWebreport.pdf (6,051.24 kb)

Annexes A to M (9,318.48 kb)

Annexes N to AA (6,808.17 kb)


On 27 November 2011 the general cargo ship Swanland suffered a structural failure and foundered in the Irish Sea with the loss of six crew.

Safety lessons

  • the limestone was a high density cargo that had been effectively loaded as a single pile within the central section of the hold. As a result, significant stresses were generated in the vessel’s midships section
  • the stresses in the midships section were exacerbated by the rough seas in which the wavelength was similar to the length of the vessel
  • Swanland’s longitudinal strength had probably weakened significantly over the previous 2½ years through corrosion and wastage.
  • the maintenance and repair of the vessel had lacked focus and oversight; no structural repairs had been undertaken since 2009
  • non-compliance with the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargo Code
  • insufficient loading information
  • a lack of effective safety management
  • poor quality of survey and audit
  • lack of oversight of the classification society by the Flag State
  • financial pressures of operating this type of vessel in the current economic downturn
  • several safety issues were identified concerning the immersion suits and lifejackets available on board the vessel


Recommendations have been made to the International Naval Surveys Bureau which seek to improve the quality of the classification society’s survey, audit and training regimes.

Recommendations have also been made to Torbulk Limited, Swanland’s ship manager, that are aimed at ensuring: solid bulk cargoes are safely carried on all its vessels and; crews are familiar with and well drilled in the use of life-saving appliances on board its vessels.

Published: 12 June 2013.

Published 23 January 2015