MAC, reading the MAIB report on the grounding of the MV Danio, suspects that the fatigue issue will stay with us until the results cost more than the cure. When ship operators and financially amenable, often corrupt, flag states stop objecting to measures that will ensure that exhausted ships’ officers do not take watches, on their own at night and turning a blind eye to falsified rest records nothing will be done until a major catastrophic, devastating event occurs, something of Titanic equivalence, only then, driven by public and political pressure will there be substantive effort made to resolve the problem.
When that happens there will be complaints from the industry about trial by publicity. The industry will have deserved that trial and will, in the public domain, quite rightly, be found guilty of negligence and profiteering. Shipowners and flag states will, again quite rightly, not merely be found wanting but criminally negligent. No longer will they be able to shrug their shoulders and blame in on the masters who acceded to them.
Nothing was unusual or unpredictable about the grounding of Danio in an environmentally sensitive area in which a pollution event could have been devastating to wildlife and the economy. It was a tick the box affair as foreseeable as a sunrise.
A fatigued Chief Officer, alone on watch with the bridge navigational watch alarm system switched off , working a six on six off regime already known to be unsafe, sat down on a sofa on the bridge to put drops in his eyes to treat an infection. He tilted his head back against the sofa to keep the drops in his eyes. He fell asleep to be awakened by the noise of the vessel grounding at 0330 off Longstone, Farne Islands, a nature reserve.
The officer’s working hours had built up a sleep debt, fatigue had accumulated.
Virtually every safety barrier than should have been in place to prevent such an accident was non-existent.ter
Neither flag state, nor the shipowner bothered to that fatigue seriously, neither dd duer diligence. Both were happy with false records because to do so was too mcuh bother and might have cost money. And the maritime community supprts their view.
It isn’t good enough. Not for the seafarers, not for the environment, not for the industry.
We suspect that it will only take a Titanic level disaster resulting in flag states and companies being forced to take fatigue seriously for them to be forced to take action. Even then, the excuses with go on.