Italian Coast Guard Blames "Negligence" for CDRY Blue Grounding

cdry blue
Image courtesy Guardia Costiera

Published Jan 3, 2022 11:07 PM by The Maritime Executive

Prosecutors in Cagliari, Italy have concluded an initial investigation into the grounding of the bulker CDRY Blue on the coast of Sardinia, finding that negligence was the primary cause of the vessel's loss. 

On December 21, 2019, the CDRY Blue went aground on a shoal between Porto Sciusciau and Capo Sperone, in the Sant'Antioco area of southwestern Sardinia. Upon receiving a report of the grounding, the Cagliari Harbor Office dispatched two patrol boats and one helicopter from the Guarda Costiera to the scene. Due to foul weather conditions and 50 knot winds, the helicopter aircrew was not immediately able to hoist the seafarers off the vessel, and the rescue had to be postponed to the following day. The vessel could not be refloated from the rocky coastline, and she was declared a total loss. Lightering operations to remove her fuel commenced, followed by a wreck removal tender and an extended demolition process.

Last week, the Public Prosecutor's Office of the Court of Cagliari announced that it has concluded its preliminary inquiry into the grounding after an investigation by the Italian Coast Guard. According to the prosecutor's office, the root cause of the casualty was "negligent conduct" in the vessel's navigation, including "maintaining highly dangerous routes in the presence of strong winds [which] pushed the vessel towards the nearby leeward coast." 

The vessel departed Cagliari on December 20, 2019, bound for Spain on a ballast voyage. According to a statement, she was operating at reduced power because of technical problems - allegedly not reported to Italian authorities before her departure - and when she ran into difficulties off the coast, she was unable to make it back to a sheltered anchorage. As a result of this chain of errors, she went aground and "spilled into the sea large quantities of hydrocarbons of various types," the Guardia Costiera concluded.

Prosecutors contend that the vessel's navigation was conducted in a manner suggesting "seafaring inexperience, imprudence and negligence," resulting in "environmental crimes of disaster and pollution." In addition to potential penalties for the crewmembers, the prosecutor's office said that it would consider administrative measures for the shipowner and shipmanager.