Unsecured bow door on ro-ro passenger vessel Pau Casals

Location: Off Menorca, Spain.

Completed PE Summary: Pau Casals

A short summary of the accident and action taken:

Merchant Vessel/Accident Details
Vessel name Pau Casals
Ship Manager Meridian Marine Management Ltd
Type Ro-ro passenger ferry
Flag UK
Built 1998
Construction Steel
Length Overall 180m
Gross Tonnage 22152
Date/Time 29/10/08, 1238 (local time)
Location of Incident Off Menorca, 40° 22.0N 003° 39.0E
Incident Type Hazardous incident
Injuries/Fatalities None
Damage/Pollution None


While on a return trip to Barcelona from the Balearic Islands, Pau Casals encountered strong winds and rough seas.  The bow door alarm was activated and more water than normal was observed on the CCTV camera positioned in the bow door space.  Attempts were made to re-secure the door using the normal operating mode, but with no success.

The ship’s heading was altered to put the sea on the stern and on investigation it was found the doors, although still closed, had become uncleated.  The doors were re-secured by manually activating the hydraulic solenoid valves for the cleats in accordance with the emergency instructions.  The ship then continued her passage to Barcelona.

After trials in port, it was found that the initial action of trying to re-secure the doors under normal operation had actually uncleated the doors.  The lower starboard locking pin was believed to have become disengaged in the heavy weather which caused the initial alarm to activate, and the default logic for the hydraulic system was to uncleat the doors before attempting to re-secure the doors.

Actions Taken

Meridian Marine Management Ltd has issued amended instructions to the ships under their management with similar bow door arrangements.  The chief inspector has also written to the managers highlighting the safety issues raised by this accident, regarding crew familiarisation, crew training and bow door operation guidance.

Published: December 2008


Published 23 January 2015