30-12-2016

Ships collided after tanker skipper went for a pee in the sea

Shipscollided

A tanker almost sank – after its hapless captain took a leak over the side instead of watching for other vessels.

The skipper was caught short while on lookout duty and left his station on the bridge to spend a penny over the stern, according to a Marine Accident Investigation Branch report.

His inattention almost cost the lives of him, his two crewmen and deckhand.

Just minutes later his vessel was rammed by a container ship four times its size.

The impact pushed the Erin Wood sideways through the water and over on to its side.

And watertight doors were left open so the sea poured inside, flooding the bridge, engine room and accommodation.

For 15 terrifying seconds the ship looked like it might capsize. But it somehow broke free from the bulbous bow of the cargo ship Darjoa and rolled back up, the report reveals.

The captain found himself clinging to the roof of the bridge. One of the crew – who had been completely submerged below deck – was washed outside when the floodwater rushed back through the open door.

Amazingly, he grabbed the top edge of the bulwark to prevent himself being swept completely overboard.

The accident inquiry found the collision – in broad daylight with good visibility at about 5pm on 29 August last year – happened largely because nobody aboard either ship was keeping a proper lookout.

The skipper of the Erin Wood, travelling from North Shields to Scrabster on Scotland’s northern coast, had seen another vessel in the distance when he went to the loo at the back of the ship, and wrongly assumed it would change direction to avoid him.

The report said the captain ‘left the bridge and went to the stern deck to urinate into the sea. While on deck, the skipper noticed a larger vessel approaching from astern. He assumed the vessel would keep clear and made no attempt to assess it further’.

He later returned to the bridge but did not see the other ship again until it hit.

The first officer on the Darjoa, travelling from Aberdeen to Lerwick in the Shetlands, could not see properly because all that was visible from his seat high on the bridge was the sky.

He also did not pay attention to equipment like radar which would have warned him of the other ship.

After a Mayday call went out, other ships is the area headed to the scene and a lifeboat from Peterhead rescued the pair from the stricken tanker, which was then towed into port.

The report said: ‘The lives of Erin Wood’s crew were placed in significant danger.

‘The skipper’s presence of mind to escape from the flooded bridge, and the deckhand managing to hold on to the bulwark to prevent being washed completely overboard, are actions that probably saved their lives.’

Source: Mirror

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