MAIB: Domingue’s Fatal Sinking Partly Due to Inexperienced Crew

The inexperience of the crew of the Domingue tug that sank while assisting the container ship CMA CGM Simba in the port of Tulear, Madagascar in September 2016 was one of the reasons behind the tug’s sinking that resulted in two deaths.

A report from the UK’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) of the incident found that aside to Domingue’s crew lack of experience in this type of operation, the tug was not fitted with a gog rope and no emergency means were provided to release the two ropes under tension.

In addition, it is highly probable that Domingue’s open doors and hatches contributed to its rapid capsize due to downfooding, MAIB said.

Domingue had been connected to CMA CGM Simba’s port quarter to help pull the vessel’s stern off the berth. During the maneuver, the prevailing tidal conditions caused CMA CGM Simba to move towards an outlying mooring dolphin. To avoid striking the dolphin, CMA CGM Simba’s master briefly maneuvered his vessel ahead, during which time Domingue girted and capsized, killing two of its five crew.

MAIB’s investigation also found that Domingue was less maneuverable than the port’s normal tug, which was undergoing maintenance at the time.

“The extent to which the plan for CMA CGM Simba’s departure had been discussed between the pilot and Domingue’s skipper before commencement is uncertain, and during the maneuver, noone on board CMA CGM Simba was monitoring the tug’s position,” the accident report reads.

“Domingue’s skipper was not warned by the pilot before CMA CGM Simba was maneuvered ahead, and so had no opportunity to re-position the tug.”

Following the accident, CMA CGM Simba’s manager, Midocean (IOM) Ltd (Midocean), has highlighted
to its fleet the dangers of working with tugs, including girting, and measures that should be taken to minimize the risks.

“In view of current published guidance and the action taken by Midocean, no recommendations have been made,” MAIB added.

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