““From 0700 yesterday until now, but at least we shall sleep this afternoon” said the master of the Netherlands-registered refrigerated general cargo ship Spring Bok. He was wrong – hours later his vessel ploughed in an LPG tanker, Gas Arctic.
The UK’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch has identified lack of look-out, distraction on the Spring Bok by family members, a fatigued master who was OOW at the time of the incident, and breach of Colregs on both vessels.
The MAIB summarises the incident: “At 1014 (UTC1) on 24 March 2012, the Netherlands registered cargo vessel Spring Bok collided with the Maltese registered liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) tanker Gas Arctic.
The collision occurred in visibility of less than 2nm, 6nm south of Dungeness while the vessels were proceeding in the same direction in the south-west lane of the Dover Strait Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS). There were no injuries or pollution, but both vessels suffered structural damage.
Following the collision both crews assessed the damage to their vessels, exchanged details and reported the accident to the coastguard. The coastguard later directed both vessels to proceed to Portland for survey and inspection.
The MAIB investigation identified that the officer of the watch (OOW) of Spring Bok, which had been overtaking Gas Arctic, was distracted, was probably fatigued, and had failed to see the other vessel visually before the collision.
Although each vessel had detected and identified the other by both radar and AIS, neither OOW made a full appraisal of the risk of collision, nor took the action required by the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea 1972 (as amended) (COLREGS) to prevent the accident.
Both vessels’ safety management systems (SMS) required that when the visibility was 3nm or less, a range of control measures be put in place to reduce the risk of collision. However, there was no lookout posted, or sound signal operating on either vessel at the
time of the collision.