At 0633 on Tuesday 18 December 2018, the roll-on/roll-of (ro-ro) passenger ferry European Causeway rolled heavily in very rough seas and very high winds during its voyage from Larne, Northern Ireland to Cairnryan, Scotland. Insufficient cargo lashings have been found to be a key factor in the incident.
The violent motion caused several freight vehicles to shift and nine to topple over. This resulted in damage to 22 vehicles, some damaged severely. At least six freight vehicle drivers had remained in their cabs on the vehicle decks
during the crossing and four were found in cabs of vehicles that had toppled over. One driver was trapped and had to be freed by the emergency services when the ship arrived in Cairnryan.
The MAIB investigation found that:
• The route being followed had not been adjusted sufficiently to mitigate the effects of the sea conditions and reduce the likelihood of severe rolling.
• The cargo lashings applied were insufficient for the forecasted weather conditions.
• The ship’s approved cargo securing manual provided limited guidance to ship’s staff
• Drivers remaining in their vehicles during the ferry’s passage, in contravention of international regulations and company policy, was not uncommon and is an industry-wide issue.
The MAIB issued a safety bulletin on 26 March 2019 entitled ‘Safety warning about drivers remaining in vehicle cabs while ferries are at sea’, which has been widely promulgated by the Road Haulage Association.
A recommendation has been made to P&O Ferries Ltd to amend its Safety Management System to provide best practice guidance on the lashing of cargo in heavy weather.
• The accident occurred because European Causeway rolled heavily in rough seas and its cargo had not been adequately secured.
• The weather conditions had been forecast and the accident would almost certainly have been avoided had European Causeway’s sailing been delayed until 0900 when the wind speed, as forecasted, dropped significantly.
• The night master’s decision to sail in heavy weather was influenced by the decision of European Highlander’s more experienced master.
• The passage plan was not altered to minimize the potential efects of the prevailing and forecast weather conditions and the night master’s intent was not clearly communicated to the OOW. Either action could have avoided heavy rolling.
• The freight vehicles were not lashed in accordance with the guidance provided in the MCA’s Code of Practice – ‘Roll-on/Roll-of Ships – Stowage and Securing of Vehicles’.
• The ship’s approved CSM and the company SMS did not provide sufficient guidance to staff about stowage techniques or the number and disposition of lashings to be applied for adverse weather conditions, and relied upon the master’s experience and discretion.
• The passengers who remained in their vehicles during the passage endangered themselves and compromised the safety of other passengers and crew. This problem is not unique to P&O Ferries Ltd and requires industry-wide collaboration to eliminate it.
Read the pdf report: 2020-03-EuropeanCauseway