Conflicting views as to what had been agreed between the bridge teams of one ship overtaking another in the Dover Strait led to a collision, according to the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB).
In its report into the accident in the early hours of July 1 last year, the MAIB said the two Hong Kong-registered ships, the bulk carrier Huayang Endeavour, 75,750dwt, and the products tanker Seafrontier, 48,580dwt, collided in the south-west channel of the main shipping lane five miles west of Sandette Bank. Both ships were damaged but were able to reach nearby ports. There were no injuries.
The Seafrontier, with 27 on board, was heading for Puerto Barrios, Guatamala, with 37,953 tonnes of gasolene, and the Huayang Endeavour, with 22 crew, was bound in ballast for Lagos, in Nigeria.
In its investigation, the MAIB said a VHF radio conversation between the two ships had resulted in the two bridge teams holding conflicting views as to what had been agreed regarding the Huayang Endeavour overtaking the Seafrontier.
“Subsequently, the Seafrontier’s bridge team did not check for sea room astern before altering course, leading to a close quarter situation between the two ships,” said the MAIB.
“Also, the Seafrontier’s Master had been present on the bridge for over 14 hours and was operating within his maximum permitted working hours. However, he was probably experiencing fatigue which resulted in his decision-making and reaction times being affected.”