Grounding? I didn't hear a thing.

My backlog of reports has for once, worked in my favour and I can report 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 2105 and in the second instance, the Bahamas registered ro-pax COMMODORE CLIPPER grounded on the approach to St Peter Port, Guernsey some five months earlier. I attach links to the two MAIB reports.

Both cases have an element of cake and arse party to them when it comes to navigation, lack of bridge teamwork and complacency, and I would suggest that there is nothing new here, but is still a timely reminder of how to do it the wrong way.

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/451374/MAIBInvReport-18_2015.pdf

https://www.gov.uk/maib-reports/grounding-of-general-cargo-ship-vectis-eagle

We would like to highlight 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.

For those on board Watkins' managed boats, please ensure that all deck and engineering officer 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. We would welcome any feedback of course, and would be pleased to circulate any comments.

And a final word of reassurance. Accidents and incidents happen. They spoil our day. But, we will be supportive and assist in every way we can. Indeed, we will be fair in investigation and reporting, but we start from a difficult position if we have to waste time unravelling the truth. 

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