Judging by search statistics, one of MAC’s most popular posts is ‘Give Us A wave’, a look at rogue waves – mountains of water that can reach 20 metres or more and which were once thought to be exaggerations by credulous seafarers who didn’t know any better. Now Europe’s Maritime Safety Agency is taken them very seriously.
In its recently released Maritime Accident Review for 2007, EMSA comments:
A new phenomenon has recently appeared in EU waters, or perhaps it is an old one which has been given better media coverage than before. Rogue waves are those which are much bigger and much more dangerous than others, and they can cause significant damage. The largest of these have been reported by oil rig workers in the North Sea at up to 20 metres high, although smaller ones have inflicted significant damage.
On 11th November 2006, two seafarers were killed and another seriously injured while they were working on the main bridge of the tanker Venture after it was hit by a 7 metre wave. A week earlier, on 4th November, the LPG tanker Gitta Kosan was hit by an 8 metre wave off the Norwegian coast, as a result of which an electrical installation was damaged and the ship suffered a complete loss of power.
On the night of 21st May 2006, a 13 metre high wave hit the ro-ro ferry Pont-Aven at night. As a result, six passengers received minor injuries, cabins were flooded, windows were smashed, passengers were moved to the upper decks and the ferry was diverted from its initial Plymouth-Santander route to Roscoff. Rogue waves can kill, and while they do not hit very often, they continue to be observed from time to time.”
So, next time you’re heading for European waters keep an eye out, and pack a very,very large surfboard.