Lack of Safety Management System in Heavy Weather Caused Damage To Vessel

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On the afternoon of Sunday the 7th February 2016, ‘MV Epsilon’ sailed from Cherbourg in France bound for Dublin, Ireland and suffered due to adverse weather conditions.

What happened?

Having departed Cherbourg, the vessel crossed the English Channel in a north-westerly direction.

It then proceeded in a westerly direction along the English Channel in the direction of Land’s End. As the vessel proceeded west, the steadily increasing westerly wind and sea conditions reduced its speed over the ground. As the night progressed, the vessel’s speed was further reduced due to the effects of the worsening weather and sea conditions. The vessel continued around Land’s End in a northwesterly direction before turning on to a north-easterly course.

Vessel condition deteriorates

As the wind and weather continued to deteriorate, the Master took the decision to seek shelter in Barnstaple Bay. Having entered the bay and assessed the conditions for anchoring, the Master decided it would be unsafe to anchor and advised all shipboard departments of his intention to ‘slow-steam’ back and forth across the bay until the weather conditions improved.

Vessel sustains damages

During one turn the vessel rolled heavily and the cargo on decks one, three, four and five shifted causing damage to cargo and some injuries to crew and to passengers. Once the weather improved sufficiently, the vessel departed from Barnstaple Bay and resumed its passage to Dublin Port, arriving on the morning of the 9th February 2016.

Safety recommendations

It is recommended that Italy, as the flag state, reviews and considers the conclusions highlighted in this report in relation to the safety management system, weather forecasting, and cargo securing.

The Company should:

  • Clarify the roles of the senior Master and the duty Master in order to ensure the effective safety management of the ship and the change of command in mixed mode operation. Consider and review the training and system requirements for weather forecasting on their ships.
  • Ensure that the cargo securing manual is approved by the flag state for their ships.
  • Ensure that the appropriate cargo securing arrangements are used on their ships and that their ships are operated accordingly.

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Source: MarineCasualtyInvestigationBoard

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