On 8 October 2017, the Barbados registered general cargo ship Islay Trader grounded off Margate, Kent, United Kingdom. The vessel re-floated approximately 12 hours later and anchored nearby. The following day, Islay Trader proceeded to Antwerp, Belgium to discharge cargo before continuing to Dordrecht, Netherlands, for inspection and repair. The vessel sustained indentations to its bow and bent frames, but there were no injuries and no pollution.
Islay Trader had dragged its anchor and was moving to re-anchor in another position when it grounded.
- The vessel dragged its anchor because the length of anchor cable used was insufficient in the tidal conditions experienced.
- The chief officer did not monitor the vessel’s position and was not aware that the vessel had dragged its anchor until alerted by the London Vessel Traffic Service.
- The master was not told that the vessel had dragged its anchor because the chief officer did not want to disturb him, and he was confident he could reposition the vessel himself.
- After weighing anchor, the chief officer soon became uncertain of the vessel’s position and was overwhelmed by the situation.
- The navigational practices on board Islay Trader were adversely impacted by the pressures resulting from having only two bridge watchkeepers.
- Interventions by the London Vessel Traffic Service that were intended to stop the vessel from grounding were timely and appropriate.
- Conducted its own investigation, which highlighted that the working practices on board the vessel were not as expected.
- Issued a fleet circular to inform its masters of the circumstances of this accident and to emphasise the importance of adherence to onboard procedures.
- Replaced the master and employed an additional navigation officer on board Islay Trader during November 2017.
- Renamed Islay Trader to Neptune and transferred the vessel to the UK ship register.
Take measures to help ensure that navigation and bridge watchkeeping practices on board its vessels are maintained to an acceptable standard, focusing on, inter alia:
- The impact of operational pressures and demands on board vessels with only two bridge watchkeepers.
- The conduct of anchorage planning and anchor watches.
- The recognition of circumstances warranting the master’s input and oversight.
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