Watch officer drunk when ship ran aground in Ardnamurchan
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.