MAIB: Fatigue, Conflicting Views Led to Dover Strait Collision

Seafrontier alongside Huayang EndeavourImage Courtesy: MAIB

Fatigue and conflicting views led to a collision between the bulk carrier Huayang Endeavour and the oil tanker Seafrontier in the Dover Strait in July 2017.

The two Hong Kong-registered vessels collided on July 1, some 5 nautical miles to the west of Sandettie Bank. Both vessels were damaged in the collision but were able to proceed to nearby ports for damage assessment. The accident did not result in any injuries or pollution.

UK’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) conducted an investigation into the incident, which identified that a very high frequency (VHF) radio conversation between the two vessels had resulted in the two bridge teams holding conflicting views as to what had been agreed regarding Huayang Endeavour overtaking Seafrontier. Subsequently, Seafrontier’s bridge team did not check for sea room astern before altering course, leading to a close quarter situation between the two vessels.

In addition, Seafrontier’s master had been present on the bridge for over 14 hours and was probably suffering from fatigue, which was likely to have had an adverse effect on his decision making, the MAIB report shows.

“Seafrontier’s master was operating within his maximum permitted working hours however he was probably experiencing fatigue which resulted in his decision making and reaction times being affected.”

Additionally, the use of VHF to resolve the situation “was inappropriate as it did not allow sufficient time for effective action to be take, the language used was not precise or clear and it did not result in a shared plan.”

Seafrontier’s bridge team did not monitor Huayang Endeavour’s manoeuvres after the VHF conversation and as they did not check for sea room before altering course, were unaware of the bulk carriers actual position

Following its internal investigation Huayang Endeavour’s manager has amended its procedures for the use of VHF for collision avoidance, and promulgated the lessons learned from this accident to its fleet, according to MAIB.

The manager of Seafrontier, has also completed an internal investigation, and has taken a number of steps to train its personnel in bridge and crew resource management, review its procedures, and promulgated the lessons from this accident to its fleet.

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