Following a fatal accident last year, the MAIB concluded that neither the dredger 'Shoreway' nor the yacht 'Orca' were keeping a proper lookout
Almost a year ago, Bernadine Ingram was killed when Orca, the Moody 31 she was sailing with her husband Peter, collided with the dredger Shoreway.
At 1331 on 8 June 2014 the dredger Shoreway and the sailing yacht Orca collided 7 miles off Felixstowe. Damage to Orca was catastrophic (Figure 1) and it sank within minutes of the collision. The yacht’s skipper was rescued from the water by Shoreway’s rescue boat but the skipper’s wife could not be found despite an extensive air and sea search. Her body was recovered from the sunken yacht by divers the next day. There was no damage to Shoreway.
Orca’s skipper saw Shoreway when it was in the deep water channel outbound from Harwich Haven. Orca was under sail returning towards its marina berth in Harwich Haven. The skipper assumed the dredger would remain in the deep water channel and decided to engage his autopilot and go below for a short period. At this stage Shoreway was approximately 1.6 miles away and from its aspect, the skipper assessed there was no risk of collision. However, Shoreway altered course to leave the deep water channel soon after, placing Orca on a collision course. Despite the clear visibility and all navigation aids being available, the officer on watch on the bridge of Shoreway failed to see Orca until the collision was unavoidable.
The MAIB investigation found that the vessels collided in good visibility as neither the chief officer, who was alone on the bridge of Shoreway, nor the skipper of Orca, who was below deck in the cabin, were maintaining a proper lookout in the period immediately prior to the collision.
The MAIB investigation established that:
- The vessels collided in good visibility as neither the chief officer, who was alone on the bridge of Shoreway, nor the skipper of Orca, who was below deck in the cabin, were maintaining a proper lookout during the period immediately prior to the collision.
- Following an alteration of course by the chief officer on Shoreway, Orca entered a blind sector caused by the vessel’s bow-mounted rainbow discharge equipment and remained unseen by the chief officer until seconds before the collision.
- Orca’s skipper saw Shoreway approximately 1.6 miles away and, from its aspect at the time, judged there to be no risk of collision and decided to engage his autopilot and go briefly below.
- Shoreway’s officer of the watch should not have been alone on the bridge at the time of the accident.
- The risks of vessels, especially small craft, not being detected in the blind sector on Shoreway, had never been assessed by the company or the crew and were not mentioned in either the master’s standing orders or the vessel’s safety management system.
- The safety management system on board Shoreway was a computer based fleet-wide generic safety management system that was of little benefit to the ship’s crew as it contained no vessel-specific information, guidance or instructions.
- It is essential that all vessels maintain a proper lookout at all times. Had the crew of either Shoreway or Orca done so, this collision could have been avoided.
- Leisure boat users should never assume that they have been seen by other vessels, nor should they assume that the other vessels will always take avoiding action. Due to the good visibility, the officer on watch on Shoreway was not using his radar and had not seen the target of Orca that had been visible on his screen for 11 minutes before the collision.
- Leisure sailors need to be particularly aware of closing speeds between their own vessels and other vessels. In this case, Shoreway was travelling at 12.9kts but many types of vessels, including ferries, cruise ships and container ships, regularly sail at speeds over 25kts and, as a result, distances that initially appear sufficient can be reduced surprisingly quickly.
- Orca’s skipper’s automatic inflation lifejacket failed to inflate on immersion in the water as the CO2 bottle was not correctly fitted to the inflation mechanism. To remain effective, inflatable lifejackets must be serviced in accordance with the manufacturer’s guidelines.