MAIB: Saga Sky Should Have Sought Shelter off Dover

The 1996-built general cargo ship Saga Sky, which collided with a rock carrying barge in November 2016 in adverse weather conditions, should have sought shelter, an investigation unveiled.

UK’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) informed that, in the absence of vessel-specific guidance as a reference for assessing the effect the forecast weather conditions would have on Saga Sky’s manoeuvrability, the master was reliant solely on his own knowledge and experience.

MAIB’s report showed that he underestimated the threat in the form of Storm Angus, and chose to continue on passage rather than attempt to seek shelter on the eastern side of Dover Strait until the storm had passed through.

Subsequently, Saga Sky’s master became increasingly concerned about the ship’s reduction in speed and decided that an appropriate action would be to turn the ship to starboard onto a reciprocal course and run with the weather until the storm abated.

“The master made repeated unsuccessful attempts to turn Saga Sky to starboard and onto a reciprocal course. However, the ship remained generally on a westnorth-westerlyheading with the wind and sea pushing it in a northerly direction towards the UK coast,” MAIB said.

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The cargo ship collided with the rock carrying barge Stema Barge II some 2 miles off the south coast of the UK. As a result of the accident, 2 subsea power cables were severed as the vessels dragged their anchors along the seabed in strong winds.

Saga Sky suffered damage to ballast tanks along its starboard side, and the crew were able to compensate for the resulting port list by pumping out ballast from the port ballast tanks. The vessel was assessed by French surveyors as remaining seaworthy and it subsequently crossed the English Channel with the French tug Abeille Languedoc in attendance. It then berthed alongside in Dunkirk until a dry dock became available in which to complete permanent repairs.

Stema Barge II suffered extensive damage to its port ballast tanks. The barge remained at anchor off Dover for several days until arrangements were made to tow it to a facility on the River Tyne to carry out repairs.