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Precis File
SHIP NAME: British Trent KEY: NUM. ENTRIES: 8
source Maritime Accident
type L
volume
material
dead 9
link http://maritimeaccident.org/library2/the-case-of-the-church-bell

The best description of this casualty CTX has found.


source LMIU
type C
volume
material
dead 9
link

Collision with bulk carrier Western Winner in fog in 51 21.3 N 02 46.53 E 03 Jun 1993 Holed in bow, caught fire, abandoned by crew Accommodation and bridge gutted Cargo transhipped 09 Jun Towed into Rotterdam 10 Jun Towed out 28 Jun. Seven crew dead, two missing Arrived Aliaga 21 Jul and demolition commenced.


source CEDRE
type D
volume 5100T
material
dead 9
link http://www.le-cedre.fr/en/spill/british_trent/british_trent.pdf

On 3 June 1993, the tanker British Trent, sailing from Antwerp to Fiumicino with a load of 24,000 tons of unleaded gasoline collided with the Panamian bulk carrier Western Winner in calm seas and thick fog. The latter was not seriously damaged. The British Trent caught fire after the collision, 7 crew died, 2 were missing, and 6 were seriously injured.

The tanker was leaking from her port side. Even though a large part of the petrol burnt in the fire, a slick of 5100 tones was reported. The remaining gasoline was transferred to anther tanker and the vessel was taken in tow to Rotterdam on 10 June. There she was sold to Turkish shipbreakers.


source FSI 4/5
type D
volume
material
dead 9
link

From Bermuda report.

In collision in fog with bulk carrier Wester Winner about 15 miles off Ostende. Holed in port bow above and below waterline with cracks in 2nd and third wing tanks, Damage to No 1-4 port wing tanks. 9 crew dead.

Western Winner too fast, did not keep effective lookout, improper use of radar. No passage plan, unaware of pilot vessel cruising ground. Did not participate in VTS which meant this vessel not identified on VTS radar.

British Trent did not make proper use of radar, assumptions were made about the actions of approaching vessels. The risk of collision was not ascertained until the vessels were so close that any action taken wouldnot have avoided a close quarters situation. It was assumed that inbound vessels would keep clear of a vessel disembarking her pilot. By the time it was realized that this assumption was wrong it was too late to avoid a collision.

Collision ruptured 3 and 4 port cargo tanks and the volatile cargo which spilled out caught fire. Crew went to stations but fire pumps could not be started, fire main was damaged.

When they decided to abandoned, the ship turned, and starboard life boat position became untenable. Crew had to jump and 9 died.


source FSI 4/5
type D
volume
material
dead 9
link

From Panamian report.

Western Winner testimony was false, logs altered. 14 knot speed was excessive. There was no lookout on bow. Radar my have had a blind spot forward.


source CAHILL_C
type D
volume
material
dead 9
link

British Trent was outbound from Antwerp loaded with gasoline. Approaching the Wanderlaar pilot station she ran into heavy fog. Trent was forced to wait at pilot station since boat was already being used. Captain tried to keep her on 250 degree heading.

Western Winner was inbound to pilot station. She was supposed to contact VTS so she can be identified. But she did not. So VTS did not provide other vessels info on Winner. Western Winner apparently thought pilot station was 3 miles further on than it was, maintained 12 knots right up to the end. Cahill concludes the master was clearly incompetent.

Winner did not cooperate with investigation. but pilots heard cries of surprise just before collision, so it seems she may have been unaware of Trent. She was operated by a ship management firm.

Trent's 2nd mate was sent to see pilot off. Normally the deck cadet would do that but he had gone below to get new batteries for his VHF. The approach of the Western Winner went undetected until 2M returned.


source WOININ
type D
volume
material
dead 9
link

It can be interesting to note that the ordeal of these [Hebei Spirit] senior officers is quite contrasting with the one of a certain Korean captain Dae Pung Gang who in 1993 was in command of the Panamanian handy size bulker Western Winner when it collided in dense fog with the stopped tanker "British Trent" causing a fire and 9 deadly casualties on the Bermuda ship.

First of all that master was not on the bridge during the short passage from Thames while fog patches were foreseen, he asked the mate to call him one hour before arriving at the pilot station, leaving to him to cross the main TSS Noord Hinder-Dover. During my time as master I never imagined not to be on the bridge in this area, even with the best visibility, on the Western Winner the logged visibility near the TSS was one mile.

Afterwards it appeared that the Western Winner was not aware of the notices to be given to the VTS of the Scheldt approaches, and did not provided them either and in fact did not even know there was a VTS. So much for the passage planning.

The master came on the bridge at 0440, 1 h 23 minutes before the collision. In spite of the worsening visibility he kept the engine on full sea speed until 0530 to reduce to full maneuvering speed, doing still 11.5 knots with a visibility of 200 to 50 meters when the collision occurred! The speed of the British Trent was extremely slow as it had just disembarked the pilot in a small launch.

The British MAIB tried to conduct an inquiry on behalf of the Bermuda authorities, but was mostly prevented to do so by solicitors on the Western Winner when the ship was lying for repair in Flushing, a Dutch port. He could obtain factual information from the Belgian and Panamanian inspectors.

In 1996 the Belgian court of Bruges, ruled to have no jurisdiction to hear charges of manslaughter against the master of the Western Winner because of the way the International Convention on Shipping Accidents of 1952 had been enacted into the Belgian law.

At the same time an UK inquest delivered a verdict of unlawful killing and the MAIB said that the master of the bulker had committed 'every possible navigational sin'.

Later however the master had been charged of manslaughter by the Belgian authorities, but he had since long disappeared. In 2001, the British Martin Callanan, an European MP, pressed the Belgian authorities to require from South Korea the extradition of the master of the British Trent, and the vice-president of the European, Commission, Mrs.Loyola de Palacio asked our minister of transport, Isabelle Durant to take action, but since then I heard nothing any more of the case.

Moral: it is much better to be the Korean master of a vessel doing full speed in dense fog an killing 9 people in Belgium, than to be the Indian master of an anchored tanker which had been rammed by a Korean vessel making in the process a large pollution that kills nobody in Korea.


source CTX
type D
volume 5100T
material
dead 9
link

Both ships had ARPA, but apparently still did not detect each other in time to properly react. VTS was useless. The fact that the VTS did not know the ship's name should not have prevented it from warning the others and trying to slow the Winner down.

The basic cause was total incompetence on the part of the Winner. This ship was operated by a third party ship management firm. We need the identity of this hireling. The official UK report is ISBN 0115517138, but at this point CTX does not have a copy.

ETC puts volume at 35714B. Not clear spill volume is complete, may not count material that burned.