Maritime safety investigators from France, Tunisia, and Cyprus have determined following a three-month probe that a collision between a Ro-Pax ferry and a containership in the Mediterranean on October 7, 2018, was a direct result of human error by crews on both vessels.
The investigators revealed on Monday, January 7, their findings on the incident. It was discovered that the captain of the Tunisian-flagged Ro-Pax Ulysse was alone on the bridge and preoccupied on his personal mobile phone instead of closely monitoring the ship’s radar at the time of the collision.
The findings also revealed that the Cypriot-flagged containership CSL Virginia had dropped anchor in the middle of a shipping lane 14 nautical miles off Corsica, where it is prohibited for vessels to do so, under pressure from the vessel’s owner.
Furthermore, as was the case on Ulysse, no one on board CSL Virginia was watching the radar until the point when the collision between the two ships was no longer avoidable.
Consequently, Ulysse, cruising at 19 knots, struck the anchored CSL Virginia.
No injuries were reported though both ships suffered significant damage, which then resulted in 500,000 litres of heavy fuel oil spilling into the Mediterranean. It took another four days for the vessels to separate from each other.
Four of Ulysse’s crewmembers, including the captain, face administrative sanctions and criminal prosecution. There is no word yet on the charges to be filed against the crew and owners of CSL Virginia.
The investigators have also submitted to the IMO and to the Tunisian judiciary recommendations with regards to increasing the number of crews assigned to each shift and monitoring of working conditions.