Grounding? Yet Never Heard a Thing!

on the rocks

“Accidents and incidents at sea happen and indeed when they do, they spoil our day,” says superyacht manager Adrian McCourt Managing Director of Watkins Superyachts.

His company is always supportive and assists Captains in every way they can, asserting that his investigators will be fair in investigation and reporting, but he warns “We start from a difficult position if we have to waste time unravelling the truth”

His comments follow reports on two navigation incidents where there is a common theme of denial.

In the first case, British flag Vectis Eagle grounded while entering Gijon, Spain on 3th November 2015 and in the second instance, the ro-pax Commodore Clipper grounded on the approach to St Peter Port, Guernsey some five months earlier.

“Both cases have an element of cake and arse party to them when it comes to navigation,” suggests Captain McCourt.

There is nothing new in the lack of bridge teamwork and complacency, but here is a timely reminder of how to do it the wrong way.

Commodore Clipper

Vectis Eagle

McCourt highlights that both Captains opted to follow the route of denial.  In the case of Vectis Eagle, VDR information was conveniently ‘not saved’ and the Master went to some lengths to instruct his crew to deny any knowledge of the ship touching bottom and tried to mislead his fleet manager and attending surveyors.

Commodore Clipper was in notoriously shallow water, passing close to a shoal patch marked with a beacon at 18.2 knots. At that depth and speed, she’d have been squatting like a squaw. Nine seconds of shuddering, reported by the Chief Engineer below as ‘surpassing anything he had experienced’, was dismissed by the Master as ‘caused by some fishing pots picked up by the propellers’. Really?

In both cases, the vessels were inbound, but such denial on an outbound passage and the prospect of loss of buoyancy in deep water would have been catastrophic.

Captains on board Watkins’ managed boats, have been asked to ensure that all deck and engineering officer are given an opportunity to read these reports and confirm doing so in their next HESS meeting minutes.