The report into MAIB’s investigation of the listing, flooding and grounding of pure car and truck carrier Hoegh Osaka on the Bramble Bank in the Solent on 3rd January 2015 has been published.

In his statement to the media, Steve Clinch, The Chief inspector of Marine accidents stated:

“The MAIB’s investigation found that Hoegh Osaka’s stability did not meet the minimum international requirements for ships proceeding to sea. The cargo loading plan had not been adjusted for a change to the ship’s usual journey pattern and the number of vehicles due to be loaded according to the pre-stowage plan was significantly different from that of the final tally. The estimated weight of cargo was also less than the actual weight. Crucially, the assumed distribution of ballast on board bore no resemblance to reality, which resulted in the ship leaving Southampton with a higher centre of gravity than normal.

This accident is a stark reminder of what can happen when shortcuts are taken in the interest of expediency. It is therefore imperative that working practices adopted by the car carrier industry ensure that there is always sufficient time and that accurate data is available on completion of cargo operations to enable the stability of such vessels to be properly calculated before departure.”

The investigation found that the cargo had shifted as a result of the ship listing. It was not the cause of the list.

The weight of cargo on board was underestimated, leading to the actual weight being 265 tonnes higher than that calculated.

The ship’s ballast water system was not fully serviceable, with all but one of the gauges for each ballast tank being unserviceable, a situation that had existed since at least July 2014. It was possible to take manual readings of the amount of water in each ballast tank. To calculate how much water was transferred between tanks, the pumps were timed using their capacity of 7 tonnes per minute.

Some of the straps used to secure the cargo to the deck were found not to meet regulations in force at the time, only being half as strong as they should have been.

In this day and age, this is a totally unacceptable situation. Lives were put at risk due to this incompetence.

The MAIB have produced a safety flyer which has been distributed throughout the shipping industry.

The flyer states that sufficient time must be made before departure for an accurate stability calculation to be completed and that the master has the ultimate responsibility for the safety of the ship. This responsibility cannot be delegated to shore-based managers or charterers’ representatives. It also says that a loading computer is an effective and useful tool for the safe running of a ship. However, its output can only be as accurate as the information entered into it.

Let’s hope things get tightened up and that we do not experience a repeat of this woeful episode.



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