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Altering Passage For 'Promotional Activities' Led to Loss of Tall Ship Astrid – MCIB Report

11th February 2015
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Dutch Tall Ship Astrid lies on rocks at a location known as the Prince's Grave close to the Sovereign islands off Kinsale. Photo: Bob Bateman
Altering Passage For 'Promotional Activities' Led to Loss of Tall Ship Astrid – MCIB Report

#astrid – If the initial MAYDAY message from the Sail Training Ship Astrid had been sent out in the correct format the emergency services could have been activated 10 minutes earlier, which could have been critical to the final outcome had conditions been more severe, according to a Marine Casualty Investigation Report (MCIB) published today. 

The 95-year-old vessel ran aground on to  Rocks off Kinsale during a photocall for the Irish Sailing Association Gathering Cruise promotion, prompting dramatic scenes as 30 people were rescued from rough seas. The vessel ran aground on July 24th 2013.

The main cause of the grounding is that the ship was not operated in a safe manner in compliance with the International Conventions, the report says.

In its conclusions the MCIB states: 'The correct passage planning procedures should have been carried out and the Master should not have altered his passage in an unsafe manner to facilitate promotional activities'.

The report also concluded that passage planning of the voyage from Oysterhaven to Kinsale was inadequate for a ship to navigate a course within 300 (m) of a lee shore in a Force 6 wind. The report says passage planning appears to have been influenced by the 'desire for photograph opportunities' for the Irish Sailing Association's (ISA) 'Gathering' cruise. The report says SOLAS Chapter V Regulation 34 was not complied with.

Mike MacSweeney, a photographer on the media boat that day told Afloat.ie: 'I wish to unequivocally state the following as a matter of record there were no instructions or requests from the media boat to the skipper or anyone onboard the Tall Ship Astrid before or after leaving Oysterhaven on the day in question'.

MacSweeney adds: 'Any actions taken by the Astrid were solely the decision of the Tall Ship Astrid. The first interaction between the media boat and the Tall Ship Astrid was when the ship was in difficulty and the media boat assisted in the rescue'.

The report concludes the immediate cause of the ship grounding and subsequent sinking can be attributed to the loss of power from the main engine. The main engine stopped as a result of fresh water contamination of the fuel. The cause of the water contamination can be attributed to human error when taking on fresh water in Brighton on 12th July 2013. Once water contamination had been found, insufficient action was taken to ensure fresh water was removed from the fuel system.

It went on: 'The operation and condition of the ship did not correspond with the applicable SOLAS Conventions, presenting a danger to the ship and the persons on-board and a threat of harm to the marine environment'.

The ship was not certified as a passenger ship for either EU or international voyages nor were the crew appropriately certified and the ship should not have been at sea, according to the MCIB.

The emergency services responded in a timely manner and effected the recovery of 30 persons without injury.

The MCIB made four recommendations including that the operators of sail training vessels should ensure that they comply with international conventions and European Union law.

It also said sail training ships entering Irish waters and ports must comply with the regulations, and that ships engaged in promotional activities must ensure that the Master has over-riding authority and that the Master must not compromise good passage planning and safety when involved in such activities.

A link to download the report as a (17mb) PDF file is HERE.

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