Transport Malta investigation: Crew member dies after wave washing over the ship’s bow

by 8, Oct, 2020Innovation

The incident

On 06 October 2019, Euroferry Malta left the port of Cagliari, Sardegna, Italy, for a coastal voyage to Porto Torres The vessel was already experiencing inclement weather.

On the following morning, the chief officer, the bosun, four ABs and an OS proceeded to the deck to inspect the cargo securing arrangements. While the chief officer was inspecting some damages sustained by the trestles and the landing gear of some trailers, the bosun called for assistance on the forecastle deck to secure the anchors. Three ABs responded to the bosun and proceeded to the forecastle.

While on the forecastle deck, a wave washed over the vessel’s bow and struck all four crew members, pushing them violently against the various structures and fittings on the forecastle deck.

The bosun and two ABs suffered serious injuries, while one AB suffered fatal injuries, as a result of this occurrence.

Safety factors

  • The anchors were not secured, following the vessel’s departure from Cagliari, contrary to what was indicated on the two heavy weather checklists completed prior to the accident.
  • Securing of the anchors for such voyages was not common practice on board Euroferry Malta.

Most probably, the securing of the anchors was viewed as an urgent and necessary task by the crew members, which led them to accept the risks associated with conducting this task in the prevailing weather conditions.

  • On seeing the damages sustained by the trailers and the portable supports, the bosun may have been concerned that the anchors would also be damaged and/or cause damages to the vessel.
  • The vessel, inherently being ‘tender’, was susceptible to water being shipped onto deck.

The master therefore must have found himself in two situations which were less than ideal and the decision to alter course to 335° was considered to be the most appropriate to allow the crew members to increase the cargo lashings on deck.

More findings

  1. The vessel’s VDR data was not saved, following the accident, as the instructions posted for this purpose were incorrect.
  2. Available information suggested that the actual axle weights of two trailers were probably higher than the declared weights of these trailers.
  3. The motions of the vessel in heavy weather conditions, shifting of the cargo within the trailers due to the same and the subsequent strain on the cargo securing devices, along with the probability of an overweight trailer, was likely to have resulted in the failure of some trailer supports which, in turn, led to further cargo shifting and subsequent damages to some trailers.
  4. It is highly likely that the minor damages sustained by the vessel’s bulwark, gunwale, guard rails and an air vent were caused by shifting of the trailers and cargo that escaped from one the trailers.

Actions taken

Following the accident, the Company took the following actions to prevent recurrence of similar accidents:

  1. A safety meeting was conducted on board Euroferry Malta, whereby all crew members were informed that the Company’s procedures and checklists for heavy weather had to be strictly complied with and that no tasks were to be initiated in heavy weather conditions without the master’s consent.
  2. A Fleet Circular, related to this accident, was promulgated amongst the Company’s fleet, which stressed the importance of following the Company’s procedures contained in the SMS manual.
  3. The correct procedures for saving the VDR data, as contained in the Manual, were posted next to the VDR display.
  4. A Fleet Circular was promulgated amongst the vessel’s fleet, requesting confirmation that the operating procedures posted near the VDR were in accordance with the manufacturer’s manual.
  5. The Company’s procedures were revised, to ensure that a cross-check of the posted VDR operating procedures is conducted whenever a master hands over command of the vessel to another master.


In view of the conclusions and taking into consideration the safety actions taken:

  • Valiant Shipping S.A. is recommended to review its cargo operations procedures with the aim of minimizing the possibility of under-declared cargo being loaded on board.
  • The flag State Administration is recommended to instruct the ROs to verify that VDR instructions posted onboard are correct.

Explore more herebelow:

Transport Malta report

October 2020