MAIB: ‘Lysblink Seaways’ Watch Officer was Drunk Before Grounding

Mike Schuler
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November 19, 2015

Lysblink Seaways aground. Photo: MAIB

The sole watchkeeper of the UK-flagged Lysblink Seaways was drunk when the ship ran aground earlier this year in Scotland, the UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch said in its investigation report released Thursday.

The general cargo ship was on passage from Belfast to Skogn, Norway on February 18, 2015 when it ran aground at full speed near Kilchoan, Ardnamurchan peninsula, West Scotland.

The vessel was declared a total loss after spending almost 2 days aground during adverse weather. The grounding resulted in material damage to its hull and the double bottom was breached, including some fuel tanks, resulting in 25 tonnes of marine gas oil entering the water, the MAIB said. The ship has since been scrapped.

The MAIB investigation found that the officer of the watch (OOW) – who was chief officer of the vessel and sole watchkeeper at the time – had become inattentive due to the effects of alcohol consumption. According to the MAIB, while off duty in his cabin, the officer drank .5 liters of rum after receiving a private phone call that cause him anxiety.

The MAIB also found that the bridge navigational watch alarm system (BNWAS) had not been switched on and an off-track alarm on the Electronic Chart System (ECS) had been silenced. Although a radar watch alarm had sounded every 6 minutes, the OOW was able to reset the alarm without leaving his chair, the MAIB said.

In its investigation, the MAIB identified several safety issues, but did not did not provide any recommendation due to actions already taken by the vessel’s owner, DFDS A/S. The safety issues identified and actions taken are listed below:

Safety Issues

  • The OOW lost situational awareness while under the influence of alcohol.
  • A lookout on the bridge would have been well placed to alert the master to the OOW’s condition and that navigational waypoints had been missed.
  • Had the BNWAS been switched on it is probable that the OOW would have realised at an earlier stage that a navigation waypoint had been missed.
  • It is unlikely that the vessel would have ended up hard aground had the preparation of an appropriate and detailed passage plan been agreed and entered into the ECS. Available safety features would then have been available with alarms to alert the OOW.
  • The owner’s zero alcohol policy had not been effectively implemented in accordance with the safety management system (SMS) despite regular audits.
  • Shortcomings, identified in an earlier MAIB report, regarding the Lys Line safety culture were still prevalent on Lysblink Seaways, despite a change of ownership.

Actions Taken

The vessel’s owner, DFDS A/S, has taken action to enhance compliance with the SMS on sister vessels, with particular emphasis on control of alcohol consumption and bridge resource management.

In view of the actions already taken, no recommendations have been made.

Full Report: MAIB investigation report 25-2015: Lysblink Seaways

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