At 06:33 on 18th December, 2018, P&O Ferries ropax ‘European Causeway’ rolled heavily in very rough seas and very high winds during her voyage from Larne, Northern Ireland to Cairnryan, Scotland.
The violent motion caused several freight vehicles to shift and nine to topple over. This resulted in damage to 22 vehicles, some severely.
At least six freight vehicle drivers had remained in their cabs on the vehicle decks during the crossing and four were found in cabs of vehicles that had toppled over. One driver was trapped and had to be freed by the emergency services when the ship arrived in Cairnryan.
According to the UK’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) report into the incident, the route being followed had not been adjusted sufficiently to mitigate the effects of the sea conditions and reduce the likelihood of severe rolling.
In addition, the cargo lashings applied were insufficient for the forecast weather conditions and the ship’s approved cargo securing manual provided limited guidance to ship’s staff.
Drivers remaining in their vehicles during the ferry’s passage, in contravention of international regulations and company policy, was not uncommon and is an industry-wide issue, MAIB said.
A recommendation (2020/107) was made to P&O Ferries to amend the Safety Management System (SMS) to provide specific guidance on the lashing of cargo in heavy weather.
MAIB also issued a safety bulletin on 26th March, 2019 to highlight the dangers posed by drivers remaining in their cabs on the vehicle deck while a ferry is at sea.