Vehicles Damaged on Ro-Ro, Drivers Pose Risk

Source: MAIB
Source: MAIB

Published Jan 18, 2020 11:06 PM by The Maritime Executive

The U.K. Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has released its report into the December 2018 incident where the shifting of freight vehicles during a ro-ro passenger ferry crossing from Larne, Northern Ireland to Cairnryan, Scotland, resulted in damage to several vehicles.

At 0633 on Tuesday 18 December 2018, the ro-ro passenger ferry European Causeway rolled heavily in very rough seas and very high winds during her voyage. The violent motion caused several freight vehicles to shift and nine to topple over. This resulted in damage to 22 vehicles, some damaged severely.

At least six freight vehicle drivers had remained in their cabs on the vehicle decks during the crossing, and four were found in cabs of vehicles that had toppled over. One driver was trapped and had to be freed by the emergency services when the ship arrived in Cairnryan.

MAIB identified the following safety issues:

•  the route being followed had not been adjusted sufficiently to mitigate the effects of the sea conditions and reduce the likelihood of severe rolling
•  the cargo lashings applied were insufficient for the forecast weather conditions, and the ship’s approved cargo securing manual provided limited guidance to ship’s staff
•  drivers remaining in their vehicles during the ferry’s passage, in contravention of international regulations and company policy, was not uncommon and is an industry-wide issue.

Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents Andrew Moll said: “Drivers remaining in their vehicles not only put themselves at risk, they place at risk other passengers, and anyone who has to rescue them. Perhaps, most importantly, crucial emergency responses, such as to a fire, can be delayed until all passengers are accounted for.

“I have written to the senior management of short sea ferry companies around the United Kingdom to further highlight the dangers posed by freight drivers remaining on vehicle decks and to encourage them to take a collective approach to eliminate this dangerous practice.”

Earlier last year, MAIB issued a safety bulletin highlighting the dangers of drivers remaining in vehicle cabs while ferries at sea.

The European Causeway report is available here.