The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has released its report on a fatal collision involving the British-flagged cargo ship, Scottish Porter, and a hopper barge in the Baltic Sea. The collision took place in December 2021 off the southern coast of Sweden, resulting in the loss of two crew members from the barge. The MAIB report revealed that none of the guards on the ships responded to the situation and failed to take timely action to prevent the collision. It was also noted that the Scottish Porter’s guard changed course without ensuring the safety of the maneuver and was distracted by using a personal tablet computer. There were no lookouts posted on any of the ships, and there is a possibility that the guard was under the influence of alcohol.
The British guardian of the Scottish Porter was arrested and subsequently found guilty of manslaughter, receiving a 1.5-year prison sentence. In response to the incident, the MAIB made several recommendations. They called for the ship management company to review the results of navigation audits to identify additional training needs and urged Karin Højs Owners to actively monitor crew levels to ensure adequate staffing. Additionally, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency was advised to emphasize the necessity of having an additional lookout in darkness and reduced visibility on British ships.
The report emphasizes the importance of installing an additional lookout point on the bridge for safe navigation and highlights the dangers of distraction during watchkeeping duties. It also recommends that shipping companies equip their crews with the tools and protocols necessary to ensure the presence of an additional guard in low visibility conditions. Andrew Moll, the Chief Marine Casualty Inspector of MAIB, stresses the need for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to clarify that having an additional lookout at night and in poor visibility is a legal requirement for all UK ships and those in UK waters.