Damage to the ACX Hibiscus. Photo: MAIB

Damage to the ACX Hibiscus. Photo: MAIB

The U.K.’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch on Wednesday released its final report on a joint investigation into a December 2011 collision between two containerships near the Singapore Strait, slamming the owner of one of the vessel’s withholding critical evidence.

Damage to the Hyundai Discovery. Photo: MAIB

Damage to the Hyundai Discovery. Photo: MAIB

On the morning of December 11, 2011, the Panamanian-registered ACX Hibiscus collided with the UK-registered Hyundai Discovery at the eastern Singapore Strait during a period of poor visibility caused by heavy rain. Both vessels were severely damaged in the collision, but no injuries or pollution was ever reported.

The investigation, which was conducted jointly by the MAIB and the Panama Maritime Authority, found that the ACX Hibiscus, which was outbound from Singapore, altered course across the bow of Hyundai Discovery, which was inbound at the time, without making adequate checks that it was safe to do so. The report says that both vessels’ officers took action to avoid the collision, but only after they saw each other at the last minute when it was too late to be effective.

The investigation concluded that neither of the vessel’s bridge watchkeepers had taken the precautions required by the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea.

The MAIB says its ability to conduct an effective investigation was restricted because access to primary evidence from ACX Hibiscus, which was outside the MAIB’s jurisdiction, was denied by the vessel’s owners, ACT Carriers Corp. According to the MAIB report, ACT Carriers Corp pressured the Panama Maritime Authority not to release critical evidence to the MAIB and, consequently, the report has been obliged to focus on the actions needed to avoid rogue vessels, rather than to deal with the underlying causes of the collision.

MAIB recommends that the owners of Hyundai Discovery share the lessons learnt from this incident with their officers, as well as further develop their safety management and training systems, particularly in collision avoidance.

As for the ACX Hibiscus, MAIB recommended that the Panama Maritime Authority take appropriate action with the owners to address the underlying causes of ineffective watchkeeping, and to ensure it is compliant with the mandatory standards of the International Maritime Organization’s Casualty Investigation Code.

The full accident investigation report can be found HERE.

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