Belfast Telegraph

Watch officer under influence of alcohol when ship ran aground - report

The officer on watch when a cargo ship ran aground earlier this year was under the influence of alcohol, according to a report.

The Lysblink Seaways vessel was travelling from Belfast to Skogn in Norway when it became stuck off the west coast of Scotland near Kilchoan in the Ardnamurchan peninsula on February 18.

The 423ft ship ran aground at full speed at about 2.30am and remained on the rocky foreshore for two days during bad weather, accident investigators said.

It resulted in damage, including to its hull and some fuel tanks, with 25 tonnes of marine gas oil entering the water, a report from the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) revealed.

After it was salvaged and towed to a dry dock, the vessel had to be scrapped.

None of the nine crew members on board the ship, which was carrying waste paper, was injured during the incident.

The MAIB investigation found the officer of the watch (OOW) - who was the sole watchkeeper - had "become inattentive due to the effects of alcohol consumption".

The probe revealed the chief officer, a 36-year-old Russian, had "consumed about 0.5 litre of rum" during the evening when he was off-duty in his cabin but he took over as watch officer at midnight.

The MAIB report, published on Thursday, said: " The vessel grounded when the OOW lost situational awareness due to his consumption of alcohol.

"While the chief officer's performance can largely be accounted for by his alcohol consumption, the investigation also uncovered poor navigational practices and that defences/control measures for the OOW becoming incapacitated were being ignored. Many of these, had they been in place, could have prevented the accident."

The MAIB report did not contain any recommendations as it said the ship's owners DFDS had already taken action, including removing bonded stores of alcohol on some of its sister vessels.

A DFDS spokesman said: "What happened on the ship was completely irresponsible. We have a very clear and very clearly communicated zero-tolerance alcohol policy which cannot be misunderstood.

"We have never seen an officer having violated the policy before and we have never before seen such negligence of our safety procedures.

"The officer is no longer employed by DFDS. We hope this will not cast a shadow over our other officers who rightfully enjoy a very good reputation."

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