Swedish prosecutors have fined the Master and Third Officer of the TT-Line’s ropax ’Marco Polo’, following her grounding off the Swedish coast.
They claim that the two officers acted recklessly in navigating the ferry, which contributed to its grounding and the resulting environmental clean-up of a fuel spill.
The Swedish Coast Guard has called up additional resources to help with the efforts to deal with the fuel spill.
‘Marco Polo’ had sailed from Trelleborg, Sweden on 21st October for Karlshamn, Sweden when it reported being aground a day later.
The Swedish Coast Guard assisted in the evacuation of 41 passengers and 10 of the 30 crew on board.
During the subsequent investigation led by the Coast Guard along with the public prosecutor, the events leading up to the grounding were reconstructed and confirmed earlier reports that the ship touched the bottom sustaining damage and was likely leaking, but continued under its own power before grounding a second time.
The vessel’s hull was damaged causing it to take on water. Up to about three miles of the Swedish coastline had been affected by the oil.
According to the prosecutor, the Third Mate was in command of the ropax before the first grounding. Despite reduced visibility, including fog in the area and darkness, he was proceeding only using the vessel’s electronic chart (ECDIS).
The Coast Guard said that it believed the electronic position system malfunctioned. Prosecutors charged the navigator with negligence for failing to use other navigational aids, such as the radar or to add a lookout.
Based on their interviews with the crew, the Coast Guard investigation showed that they thought they were to the east of Hanö, a small island off the southeast coast of Sweden, when in fact they were in the channel between Hanö and the mainland.
After the first grounding, the ferry’s Master took command, continuing to rely on the electronic chart. The ship went hard aground during the second incident.
According to Marine Traffic, ‘Marco Polo’ was still aground on the 29th October.