MAIB Investigation Report: Cargo Ship ‘Islay Trader’ Grounded After Dragging Anchor

The UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has released its report on the investigation into last year’s grounding of the general cargo ship Islay Trader off Margate, England, finding that poor navigational and bridge watchkeeping practices contributed to the incident. 

The Barbados-flagged Islay Trader grounded on the morning of October 8, 2017 near the seaside town of Margate in Kent after dragging anchor, the MAIB found. 

According to the MAIB, shortly after 9 p.m. on the night before the grounding, the Islay Trader anchored in Margate Road where the master intended the vessel would remain overnight before commencing passage to Antwerp, Belgium the following morning. Less than two hours after anchoring, the master handed over the bridge anchor watch to the chief officer and went to bed.

Just before 2 a.m. the following morning, the chief officer was alerted by London Vessel Traffic Services that the vessel was close to Margate Sand and may have dragged anchor. The MAIB found that the grounding occurred when the chief officer attempted to re-anchor the vessel in another position.

“During the morning of 8 October 2017, the general cargo vessel Islay Trader began dragging its anchor, the ship’s officer of the watch (OOW) attempted to reposition the vessel without the assistance of the master. The OOW subsequently became overwhelmed, uncertain of the ship’s position and at 0242 the vessel grounded near Margate beach,” the MAIB said in its summary of the report.

The vessel sustained indentations to its bow and bent frames, but there were no injuries and no pollution.

The following day, Islay Trader proceeded to Antwerp, Belgium to discharge cargo before continuing to Dordrecht, Netherlands, for inspection and repair.

The MAIB said the investigation identified that the vessel dragged its anchor because the length of anchor cable used was insufficient in the tidal conditions experienced and the chief officer did not monitor the vessel’s position and was not aware that the vessel had dragged its anchor until alerted by the London Vessel Traffic Service.

Further, the master was not told that the vessel had dragged its anchor, and when the chief officer was attempting to reposition the vessel, he became overwhelmed by the situation and uncertain of the vessel’s position, the MAIB said.

The navigational practices on board Islay Trader were adversely impacted by the pressures resulting from having only 2 bridge watchkeepers, the MAIB added.

As a result of the findings, the MAIB has made a recommendation (2018/114) Islay Trader’s owner and manager, Faversham Ships Ltd, aimed at improving the standard of navigational and bridge watchkeeping practices on board its vessels.

You can read the full MAIB report here: Islay Trader Grounding Report (opens as pdf)