MAIB report reveals Cemfjord cargo ship sinking incident could have been avoided
Join Our Newsletter - Get important industry news and analysis sent to your inbox – sign up to our e-Newsletter here
X

MAIB report reveals Cemfjord cargo ship sinking incident could have been avoided

21 Apr 2016

A UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) report stated that the fatal hazard that caused the sinking of the Cyprus-registered cargo vessel Cemfjord last January in the Pentland Firth, Scotland, could have been avoided.

RMT

A UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) report stated that the fatal hazard that caused the sinking of the Cyprus-registered cargo vessel Cemfjord last January in the Pentland Firth, Scotland, could have been avoided.

The capsize and sinking of the cement carrier in the Pentland Firth between Orkney and the Scottish mainland led to death of eight crew members.

The MAIB in its report stated that the decision by captain Pawel Chruscinski to enter the Pentland Firth and not seek shelter from storm ‘was almost certainly a result of poor passage-planning, an underestimation of the severity of the conditions and perceived or actual commercial pressure to press ahead with the voyage.

‘Critically, this decision will also have been underpinned by an unwillingness to alter course across the heavy seas after the experience of a cement cargo shift in similar circumstances about three months before the accident.

The MAIB also urged the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to make reporting system for vessels passing in the Pentland Firth compulsory, besides having a new local warning system for captains due to ‘the frequent and extreme local sea conditions’.

Carrier owner Brise Breederungs stated that responsibility for routing decisions lay with a ship’s captain and charterer.

The charterer of this vessel was cement company Aalborg Portland.

Hamburg-based Brise Breederungs was quoted by The Guardian as stating: "We wish to express, once again, our condolences to the families of those who lost their lives."

"Coastal cargo freight should be a success story for maritime skills and in shifting more freight off roads. Instead, it is an industry that plays fast and loose with international maritime regulations and, ultimately, seafarers’ lives."

It also added: "We will never know the exact basis on which [the skipper] took this decision."

Refuting this account, Aalborg Portland supply chain management director Peter Boltau was quoted by The Guardian as stating that the Brise Breederungs would ‘always remain responsible for the navigation of the vessel, also for any deviations or loss of time caused by, for example, poor weather conditions’.

The MAIB had stated that it brought up several safety issues that were found during its probe with the ship’s owners and the Cypriot authorities. Following which, it directed Brise to upgrade training in new stability systems and cargo management.

Meanwhile, maritime union RMT has urged a public inquiry into coastal cargo sector in light of this MAIB report.

RMT national secretary Steve Todd said: "We welcome the MAIB report which tells us that this catastrophic incident could have been avoided. Coastal cargo freight should be a success story for maritime skills and in shifting more freight off roads. Instead, it is an industry that plays fast and loose with international maritime regulations and, ultimately, seafarers’ lives."


Image: An upturned cargo vessel Cemfjord. Photo: courtesy of the UK Government.

Free Report

COVID-19 Executive Briefing

Enter your details here to register for the event and receive your free report.

FREE REPORT: GlobalData’s 60-page COVID-19 Executive Briefing report will help you understand the COVID-19 outbreak, its economic impact, and implications for specific sectors.

By clicking the “Submit” button above, you accept the Terms & Conditions and acknowledge that your data will be used as described in the Arena Financial Privacy Policy.

We will also collect and use the information you provide for carefully considered and specific purposes, where we believe we have a legitimate interest in doing so, for example to send you communications about similar products and services we offer. We will always give you an option to opt out of any future communications from us. You can find out more about our legitimate interest activity in our privacy policy here. ‘We’ includes Verdict Media Limited and other GlobalData brands as detailed here.