‘Insufficient planning’ led to CV24 grounding
Lessons learned from previous incidents could have prevented the grounding of the Clipper Race CV24 yacht Greenings, says the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB).
The vessel ran aground off South Africa on 31 October 2017 during Leg 3 of the round-the-world race.
In its report, the MAIB said there was ‘insufficient planning for the coastal passage: no crew member had been assigned to the navigation station, depth information was not being displayed at the helm and there were no safe cross-track distances or safety depths plotted on paper or electronic charts.’
At the time of the incident, the skipper, the only professional sailor aboard, was responsible for navigation. Changes in wind speed and direction and an inability to maintain course in 20-25-knot north-northwesterly winds led him to order a gybe, which he supervised. This distraction, said the MAIB, along with no depth information being displayed at the helm and the hazy, dark conditions meant no one foresaw the grounding risk. The Clipper Race advisory warning for all yachts was to remain at least 10 miles offshore at night. It has since introduced compulsory mandatory exclusion zones around all navigational hazards, and no Clipper vessel can roam into less than 20m. Seven of the 11 other race yachts followed courses similar to CV24’S towards the shore and CV31 almost certainly also grounded, although managed to gybe to alter course.
The MAIB also highlighted the lack of an experienced navigator aboard CV24. Provision of this role had been recommended to Clipper in 2010 by the Maritime
Services Ltd, which investigated the grounding of CV4 on a reef in Java.
The absence of a second professional sailor, which was recommended to
Clipper in 2017 by the MAIB after the deaths of Andrew Shipman and Sarah Young during the 2015-16 race, was also raised. ‘With only one professional, employed seafarer on board, the Clipper yachts were not safely manned for the roundthe-world race,’ stated the MAIB in its CV24 grounding report.
Despite the 2017 recommendations, Clipper introduced its Clipper coxswains for each yacht – chosen crew who underwent a Maritime and Coastguard Agency-approved training course. It felt they would be able to raise concerns rather than a company-employed qualified mate.
The Clipper coxswain was off watch at the time of CV24’S grounding.
Following the grounding, Clipper immediately placed qualified mates on board every yacht, created an internal Safety Audit Department led by the chief operating officer and introduced procedure so all passage plans are checked by company staff before each leg.
Chairman and founder of Clipper, Sir Robin Knox-johnston, said it was committed ‘to maintaining the highest possible safety standard across its training and racing.
‘Clipper Ventures runs a safety management system which exceeds all regulatory requirements and recommendations,’ he stressed, adding it had been at the forefront of implementing safety initiatives to ocean racing such as AIS beacons in lifejackets and double tethers on harnesses.
‘The lessons for our industry at large are significant and a review of regulation, and the speed of reporting of key learnings, is urgently required.’
The skipper was the only navigator aboard CV24 at the time of the grounding
None of the CV24 crew were injured