MAIB: Lysblink Seaways skipper was drunk at the wheel

The MAIB report into the grounding of container ship Lysblink Seaways has revealed that the officer on watch was drunk at the time of impact

DFDS Seaways has reiterated its zero tolerance policy on alcohol consumption, after a Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) report found that one of its skippers was drunk at the wheel earlier this year.

On February 18, the 129m cargo vessel Lysblink Seaways ran aground on the west coast of Scotland near the port of Kilchoan.

The grounding happened at 0232, when AIS tracking data revealed that the 7,500 tonne container ship was travelling at 14 knots.

The MAIB report explains the cause of the incident, saying: “During the evening, while off duty in his cabin, the chief officer made a private telephone call which caused him anxiety, after which he consumed about 0.5 litres of rum.”

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The chief officer, a 36-year-old Russian male, took over as the officer on watch at midnight. The vessel began to deviate significantly from its planned route at 0211, and at 0212 the radar alarm sounded and was reset without any change of course as the ship left the Sound of Mull.

The report concludes that “the vessel grounded when the officer on watch lost situational awareness due to his consumption of alcohol,” but does not reveal whether he had fallen asleep or not before the collision at 0232.

Lysblink Seaways - Wheelhouse


Following the grounding, Stornoway Coastguard and RNLI Tobermorey were called to the scene and reported no injuries to the nine crewmembers, although 25 tonnes of oil were spilled into the sea.

Two days later, Lysblink Seaways refloated itself on the high tide and a salvage operation by Svitzer tugged the vessel into Clydeport.

Later examinations deemed the vessel a constructive total loss due to damage to the hull and as a result it was scrapped.

DFDS Seaways says that it operates a “zero alcohol policy on board vessels”, and since the grounding the firm has removed bonded stores of alcohol from some of Lysblink Seaways’ sister vessels.

Gert Jakobsen, vice president of communications at DFDS Group, told MBY: “The day after the incident the chief officer was no longer an employee of ours.

“There is absolutely no excuse – we have a clearly communicated zero tolerance policy in our fleet and we have had that for some time.

“We have communicated that so clearly that it cannot be misunderstood at all. We have never before had any case like this.

“We hope this does not in any way cast a shadow over the high reputation of our skippers. We have 50 ships in operation, and from the moment crews report in they are not allowed to have any alcohol in their blood.”

Gert also explained that the 59-year-old Norwegian master in charge of Lysblink Seaways was “due for retirement” after the voyage and so was not subjected to any disciplinary proceedings.

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