Watch of­fi­cer drunk when ship ran aground in Ard­na­mur­chan

The Oban Times - - News - EMMA CRICHTON ecrich­ton@oban­

THE OF­FI­CER on watch was drunk when a cargo ship crashed full speed into an Ard­na­mur­chan shore­line, a re­port has re­vealed.

The Lys­blink Sea­ways was left stranded near Kil­choan for al­most two days dur­ing bad weather from Fe­bru­ary 18, re­sult­ing in 25 tonnes of marine gas oil leak­ing into the wa­ter and the ves­sel be­ing scrapped af­ter it was ‘pounded heav­ily’ on the rocky fore­shore.

A re­port by the Marine Accident In­ves­ti­ga­tion Branch (MAIB) said the of­fi­cer on watch, a 36-year- old Rus­sian, was the sole watch­keeper at the time of the ship’s jour­ney be­tween Belfast and Sokgn, Nor­way, and be­came ‘inat­ten­tive’ at around 2am, af­ter drink­ing half a litre of rum.

It also stated warn­ing sys­tems that would have alerted the of­fi­cer that the ship was off course and at risk had been turned off. The 7,000-tonne ship had been car­ry­ing 50 tonnes of waste pa­per along the west coast of Scot­land, via the Sounds of Is­lay and Mull. Dam­age to the Lys­blink was so se­vere it was de­clared a ‘con­struc­tive to­tal loss’ and scrapped.

The re­port said: ‘The ves­sel grounded when the of­fi­cer on watch (OOW) lost sit­u­a­tional aware­ness due to his consumption of al­co­hol. While the chief of­fi­cer’s per­for­mance can largely be ac­counted for by his al­co­hol consumption, the in­ves­ti­ga­tion also un­cov­ered poor nav­i­ga­tional prac­tices and that de­fences/con­trol mea­sures for the OOW be­com­ing in­ca­pac­i­tated were be­ing ig­nored. Many of th­ese, had they been in place, could have pre­vented the accident. The chief of­fi­cer had con­sumed a very large amount of al­co­hol be­fore go­ing on watch.

‘How­ever, the in­ves­ti­ga­tion found that the owner’s zero al­co­hol pol­icy on board was of­ten flouted by crew mem­bers.

‘The in­ven­tory of the ves­sel’s bonded store records showed it was reg­u­larly re­plen­ished with spir­its, wine and beer, and ev­i­dence of sig­nif­i­cant al­co­hol consumption by the crew should have alerted the owner to the like­li­hood that its al­co­hol pol­icy was not be­ing ob­served.’

A spokesman from the own­ers, DFDS Sea­ways, con­firmed the com­pany op­er­ates a zero tol­er­ance pol­icy on drink­ing dur­ing work and those re­spon­si­ble were no longer em­ployed by DFDS. He added: ‘We have never seen any­thing like this on any of the ves­sels in our fleet. We com­mu­ni­cate our pol­icy so clearly there is no way it could be mis­un­der­stood.

‘The watch­man is no longer with us and the man­age­ment on board was re­spon­si­ble for car­ry­ing out pol­icy and com­pletely failed to do so. He is no longer em­ployed by us.

He said: ‘We are ex­tremely sorry that this accident hap­pened and, of course, we are very happy that no per­sons were in­jured dur­ing the in­ci­dent which was quite dan­ger­ous. We can only say that it is a re­sult of a com­pletely ir­re­spon­si­ble ac­tion on board which should never have hap­pened.’

SCRAPPED: The of­fi­cer on watch was drunk when the Lys­blink

Sea­ways ran aground at Ard­na­mur­chan.

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