MAIB Completes Examination of MV Cemfjord Wreck With No Sign of Missing Crew

A photo of the upturned hull of the MV Cemfjord taken from a Wick RNLI lifeboat. Photo courtesy RNLI
A photo of the upturned hull of the MV Cemfjord taken from a Wick RNLI lifeboat. Photo courtesy RNLI

The UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) provided another update Wednesday on their investigation into the tragic sinking of the MV Cemfjord just north of Scotland in early January.

The Cyprus-flagged vessel was carrying a cargo of cement from Aalborg, Denmark to Runcorn, Cheshire in western England when it capsized and subsequently foundered in the Pentland Firth on January 2, 2015. All eight crewmembers, comprised of seven Polish and Filipino, are presumed to have perished when the vessel mysteriously capsized without sending a mayday call or giving any indication that the ship may have been in trouble.

Tuesday’s update from the MAIB was to inform that the fieldwork phase of the investigation has now been completed. The work included a detailed examination of the wreck, which was located a few days after the sinking on the seabed in the eastern approaches to the Pentland Firth. The examination used multi-beam sonar, video and still camera techniques to gather data that will be used in a detailed analysis that is expected to take some weeks, the MAIB said.

The MAIB said that from its initial analysis, it is evident that the vessel’s hull remains intact with no indications of structural failure. The wreck is partially inverted and lying on its superstructure in deep water with very strong tidal conditions that would make any attempt to dive on the site extremely dangerous, according to the MAIB. ROV surveys, however, have provided good evidence that will allow the Branch to complete its investigation into the loss, the MAIB said.

The update from the MAIB added that there has still been no sign of the eight missing crewmembers. In addition, there will be no need to raise the wreck for the purpose of the MAIB’s investigation, as any attempt to do so would be extremely challenging and may not be technically possible given the size and condition of the wreck, the nature of its cargo, deep water and strong tidal currents.

Unfortunately, given this new information, it seems unlikely that those missing will ever be found.