Back to Casualty List | Search The Casualty Database
Precis File
SHIP NAME: British Vigilance KEY: NUM. ENTRIES: 2
source Isle of Man
type D
volume N
material
dead 0
link http://www.gov.im/lib/docs/dti/shipregistry/bviglan.pdf

Good factual report with some great pictures. But focuses completely on British Vigilance. The initial course were BV 060 at 14.5 knots, the Stena King 125 at about 12 knots. The BV captain estimates the angle of impact at 25 degrees abaft the beam, but pictures of the King damage, indicate it was shallower than that.


source CTX
type D
volume N
material
dead 0
link

At about 0130 on the night of March 25, 2002, the Stena King, a fully loaded 450,000 ton pre-marpol ULCC was outbound from Fujairah headed SW. The double hull British Vigilance (IMO 9002611) in ballast was also outbound but headed NNE. Weather was calm and visibility was very good. The King was the burdened vessel but opted to go to port to pass in front of the Vigilance, a strange decision. She may have been confused by the fact that the Vigilance which had just raised her anchor was increasing speed. She didn't make it. She hit the Vigilance in the aft most cargo tank on the port side, Despite the fact that the ships hit at fairly fine angle and at a relative speed of less than four knots, the bow of the King penetrated not just thru the double sides, but all the way thru the port cargo tank. djw1 saw the Vigilance in the repair yard a few weeks later. The damage extended all the way into the port longitudinal bulkhead. The ship had a beam of 56.5 m, and based on Holly class the longitudinal bulkhead was about 7 meters off centerline. So depth of pentration was about 20 meters.

Miraculously, the Vigilance was headed for a scheduled drydocking. All her cargo tanks had just been carefully cleaned. This was one of the few days every two and a half years that she would be free of petroleum vapor. There was no explosion. The King's forepeak was badly damaged but the damage stopped 1 meter forward of the No 1 starboard cargo tank, so there was no spill. What could have easily been the biggest spill in history was avoided. There was no communciation between the ships up to contact.

Now here's the kicker. Not only did everybody on each bridge speak good English, the captains of both the Stena King and the British Vigilance were English. In fact they had known each other for twenty years. The captain of the Vigilance had served as a mate under the captain of the King. But they did not talk.

The Vigilance was registered in the Isle of Man. The King in Bermuda. We have the Isle of Man investigation report which has a very detailed description of what went on on-board the Vigilance, but says almost nothing about the King. It's clear that the Vigilance was slow to pick up the presence of the King. She was sighted visually at 6 miles, before she was actually identified on radar. This was probably because the King was low in the water, and surrounded by all the targets anchored at Fujairah. The people on the Vigilance immediately identified the ship as the Stena King.

The Vigilence was clearly the stand on ship and expected the King to alter to starboard to pass behind her. But she made no attempt to contact her to confirm this. At the last minute the Vigilence went to starboard, which swung her stern into the oncoming King, which apparently altered further to port. It is possible the opposite manuevers might have worked, even fairly late in the scenario. Anyway the Isle of Man report criticized the Vigilance captain for not picking up the King sooner and not altering to starboard sooner even though he was the stand on ship. It did NOT criticize him for not talking to the King even though he should have realized that the fact he was speeding up would be very important for the King to know.

CTX has not yet located the Bermuda investigation report. Maybe it does not exist, or maybe it has not been made public. Stena is a very big owner which no flag of convenience would want to inconvenience. We do know that Bermuda refused to cooperate with Isle of Man in a joint report. But it is clear that the bulk of the blame lies on the KIng. More basically, it lies on a system where nobody talks to each other, event though in this case the two captains had served together.