Antonis, a Greek registered bulk carrier, was being manoeuvred stern-first from the port of Liverpool’s Langton Dock to Alexandra Dock with a pilot on board. As she entered the passageway between the docks, her stern started to drift towards the eastern wall under the influence of a north-westerly wind. The pilot was unable to counter the drift, and the vessel’s hull, in way of a topside fuel oil tank, made contact with the sharp edge of a counterweight fitted on the open swing bridge. This caused a 1.5 metre gash in the vessel’s side that resulted in about 330 tonnes of fuel oil spilling into the dock system.
The counterweight had been fitted when the swing bridge had been lengthened. The investigation found that, prior to the accident, the port authority, Mersey
Docks and Harbour Company Ltd, had not identified that the counterweight on
the refurbished bridge was a potential hazard to marine operations, and that
no formal risk assessment had been conducted since the bridge had been
The port authority intends to implement a number of actions designed to enhance the safety of vessels using the Langton-Alexandra passageway.
Mersey Docks and Harbour Company Ltd has been recommended to expedite this work.