MAIB: Ship Master Drank Alcohol Before Running Aground

Image courtesy of Marine Accident Investigation Branch

An investigation has revealed that the master of a Netherlands-registered general cargo vessel Ruyter, which ran aground near Northern Island’s Rathlin Island, had been drinking prior to leaving the bridge unattended before the incident on October 10, 2017.

The UK Government’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) report documented how the Ruyter’s master consumed alcohol before taking over the watch, but the chief officer, who had previously warned the master against excessive consumption of alcohol, had been satisfied that the master was fit for watchkeeping duties.

The MAIB’s report also found that someone had turned the bridge navigational watch alarm system off.

Had it been on, it could have alerted the chief officer to the fact that the bridge was unmanned.

Read about the Sea Traffic Management Validation project, an attempt to develop a safer, more efficient and environmentally friendly maritime sector, in a Port Technology technical paper

This resulted in no one taking action to correct a deviation from the ship’s planned track.

MAIB’s safety lessons related to the incident included a warning about how the consumption of alcohol prior to taking over the watch had “an adverse effect on the master’s ability to maintain a safe navigational watch”.

It added: “Although the chief officer had concerns about the master’s excessive alcohol consumption, he did not feel sufficiently empowered to raise the matter with the company.”

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