MAIB combined report on two cases of contact damage involving wind-farm service craft

The MAIB has published a single report on two separate incidents which both occurred on 21st November 2012, both involving wind-farm service craft suffering contact damage, which share many common safety issues pertinent to the yachting industry, and this does include those driving larger tenders.

In particular, both investigations have highlighted a need for appropriate manning, training and assessment procedures. We are aware of at least one incident in the last year or two where an owner's life (and that of two other passengers) was put at risk of drowning by an incompetent tender driver. Sadly we can't circulate this. Nothing at all to do with the boat driver being the son of the owner's rep. Absolutely not. That would be libellous.

In both cases here, Masters lost their situational awareness because the passage was not being properly monitored. Oddly enough, one is panned by the MAIB for an inadequate visual lookout whilst the other was criticised for relying solely on a visual lookout, but the reader will make the distinction. Charts which have not been appropriately maintained up to date are also route one for an investigator and should be a no-brainer for a vessel working in the same area day after day. Audit and assessment of Masters/lookouts/skippers are not always fully maintained in the large yacht sector, but do provide us with a means to reduced risk profiles. Attention needed by us as managers and by self-managing Captains.

Finally, not raised in the report – and perhaps peripheral or a reflection of my ignorance of custom and practice - the first incident involved crossing a live ammunition firing area. There was no response from the range control tower as it was unmanned. None of the range's red flags or red lights were showing, indicating that the range was not in use, therefore the Master deemed it safe to transit. Isn't that what they referred to as negative reporting in the Sheen report/Herald of Free Enterprise investigation? Personally, I'd like to assume I was going to be shot at unless I was told categorically otherwise. Maybe that's just me being picky.

For those on board Watkins' managed boats, please ensure that all crewmembers are given an opportunity to read this and confirm so in your next HESS meeting minutes. I can be contacted at any time if anyone has any questions.