Paper chart not referred to 'at crucial time'


A P&O cross-Channel ferry carrying nearly 400 people grounded in bad weather when the crew failed to detect a charted wreck, an accident report states. A paper chart marking the position of wreck off Deal, Kent, was on the vesselPride of Canterbury. But the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) said that the chart was not referred to ‘at the crucial time’.

The ferry suffered severe damage to its port propeller but was able to sail unaided to Dover on January 31, 2008. No-one was hurt and the ship berthed with the help of two tugs.

The report said that as the bad weather had temporarily closed the port of Dover, the ferry had sheltered in an area off Deal known as ‘The Downs’ before she ran aground. The wreck would not have been displayed on the ferry’s electronic chart because of the settings in use at the time of the incident.

The officer of the watch was navigating by eye and with reference to the electronic chart but he was ‘untrained in the use and limitations of the system’. The ferry’s master had given verbal instructions on the geographic limits of the area in which the vessel was to wait.

The report said that as the vessel was approaching a turn, the bridge team became distracted by a fire alarm and a number of telephone calls. The ferry then overshot the northern limit of the safe area before the turn was started.

The MAIB said that the bridge team management was ‘ineffective’ and that there was no formal passage planning for the navigation of the vessel while waiting in The Downs. The information exchange at watch handovers was not performed in a systematic way and the vessel’s position was not systematically plotted on the paper chart. The MAIB said that it had issued safety notices to ferry and other ship operators which detailed lessons learned from the accident.