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Incorrectly Designed Electrical System Caused Fishing Vessel to Collide with Dingle Pontoon - MCIB

18th August 2023
The damage caused to boats and pontoons at Dingle Harbour in Co Kerry
The damage caused to boats and pontoons at Dingle Harbour in Co Kerry Credit: MCIB

An incorrectly designed electrical system on a French-registered fishing vessel has been identified as the main cause of a serious collision with a pontoon in Dingle Harbour which caused extensive damage last November.

The Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) has recommended that the French authorities should test and verify the automatic operation of emergency electrical systems during surveys of fishing vessels following its inquiry into the incident.

The incident occurred on November 25th, 2022 in Dingle Harbour, Co Kerry when the French-registered fishing vessel named Bikain was preparing to go to sea to resume fishing.

FV Bikain Alongside in DingleFV Bikain Alongside in Dingle Photo: MCIB

The marine casualty caused “serious damages to the pontoons and the support piles and serious damages to boats moored on the pontoons at the time”, the MCIB says. There were no injuries reported.

The vessel was crewed by a Spanish skipper and Spanish crew, and the skipper had extensive experience and had been sailing on fishing vessels since he went to sea around 41 years ago, it says.

“serious damages to the pontoons and the support piles and serious damages to boats moored on the pontoons at the time”

Senior crew also had Spanish certificates endorsed for sailing on French-flagged vessels and were all suitably experienced for this type of vessel, it says.

The vessel had been fishing off the west coast of Ireland and had come into Dingle Fishery harbour centre on 23rd November 2022, due to forecasted bad weather, it says.

As it prepared to leave two days later, the main engine was started, and checks for sailing were being carried out when the controllable pitch propellers (CPP) went to the full astern position.

“ The Skipper tried to stop the main engine with the emergency stop button on the wheelhouse console, but this failed,” the MCIB says.

“ The mooring ropes holding the vessel parted, and the vessel went quickly astern and made heavy contact with the southern boat marina pontoon causing extensive damage to the pontoon and to several boats that were secured there at the time,” it says.

“ The main engine was eventually stopped by shutting off the fuel, and the vessel drifted across the harbour basin,” it says.

“The FV Danny Finn cast off from the western side of the pier and rushed to assist by going alongside the FV Bikain and connecting ropes to assist the vessel and tow her back to the main quay wall where she was then tied up safely,” it says.

The Dingle harbour master activated the port emergency response plan to secure the drifting and damaged boats and pontoon sections.

Divers were mobilised, as well as boats, to tow the damaged boats and secure them to safer moorings. A clean-up operation was also carried out to collect debris from damaged boats, and some were lifted out to the slipway, the report says.

“There were no injuries and no pollution, but extensive damage was caused to the southern pontoon and moored boats,” it says.

“ As this was a French-flagged vessel, the Director of the Bureau d’enquêtes sur les événements de mer (BEAmer) (French Marine Casualties Investigation Office of the Ministry of the Sea) also decided to investigate jointly,” it says.

The report, which makes a number of recommendations, concludes that the electrical system was incorrectly designed on this vessel, and this was the root cause of the casualty.

“ The design of this system necessitated that the emergency batteries were required to be in use at all times for the operation of the vessel, but the emergency batteries should only be used for emergency situations when the main power supply fails,” it says.

“Previous failure of the charging system was not identified as a critical failure and should have instigated a full investigation to identify why these failures were occurring. This investigation should have identified the design faults and prevented this casualty event,” it says.

The MCIB also notes that there were no written procedures for the test and maintenance of “this critical system onboard the vessel”.

The full report is here

Published in MCIB Team

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