The UK’s Maritime Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has completed a preliminary assessment of an incident involving Hurtigruten’s expedition cruise ship ‘Maud’ and DFDS’ freight ro-ro ‘Gardenia Seaways’.
At about 02.30 on 4th November, 2021, the ‘Maud’ (pictured) and ‘Gardenia Seaways’ passed each other at a distance of about 130 m in the vicinity of the North Shipwash Buoy, to the north of Harwich Haven Authority jurisdiction limits.
The outbound ‘Maud’ had earlier signalled her intention to pass the inbound ‘Gardenia Seaways’ port to port, but the ‘Maud’ passed close ahead of the ro-ro, despite several warning broadcasts from Harwich Vessel Traffic Services (VTS).
Neither Master was on the bridge at the time. The actions of the watchkeepers on both vessels contributed to a dangerous situation developing in an area well-known for shipping traffic problems, the MCA said.
As a result of MAIB’s assessment, the UK’s Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents has written to Hurtigruten Expeditions and DFDS Seaways (Lithuania) advising them of the safety issues identified and highlighting his concern about the conduct of navigation on both vessels.
He has also written to Harwich Haven Authority and advised it to undertake a traffic assessment in consultation with Trinity House and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) to identify routeing or procedural measures that will help the safety of traffic in the area.
Hurtigruten Expeditions and DFDS Seaways have both taken internal measures to note the lessons learned from this near miss and improve standards of watchkeeping throughout their fleets, MAIB said.
Hurtigruten Expeditions has also increased the ‘Maud’s’ complement of officers to allow for additional watchkeepers in areas that involve increased levels of navigational awareness.