P&O needs to update SMS after ferry damage

P&O Ferry European Causeway in stormy weather. Credit: Kenneth Whyte/Marine Traffic

The UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) advises P&O Ferries to update its safety management system (SMS) after the 26,000 gt European Causeway roll on/roll off vessel caused widespread damage to its freight cargo.

Following an investigation into the incident that happened in stormy weather on the way from Northern Island to Scotland in December 2018, the MAIB report found that the captain’s decision to sail in stormy weather was influenced by a more experienced captain on a sister vessel, and that the route had not been adjusted to mitigate the sea conditions and avoid the likelihood of severe rolling.

“The weather conditions had been forecast and the accident would almost certainly have been avoided had the European Causeway’s sailing been delayed until the windspeed dropped significantly,” concluded the MAIB report.

Several lorries onboard the vessel swung around and nine toppled over due to the rough seas encountered, causing the vessel to roll heavily. 22 vehicles were damaged with one driver trapped and could only be freed once the vessel arrived in Cairnryan and the emergency serviced intervened.

“The passengers who remained in their vehicles during the passage endangered themselves and compromised the safety of other passengers and crew … this problem is not unique to P&O Ferries and requires industry-wide collaboration to eliminate it,” it is stated in the MAIB report.

The cargo lashing was also found to be insufficient for the weather encountered and the approved cargo-securing manual did not provide enough guidance to the crew, hence the need for more specific information and updates to be made to the company’s SMS.