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Health and safety

Collision sparks concerns about maritime safety standards

8 March 2024

On 24 October 2023 the general cargo vessel Scot Explorer collided with the gas carrier Happy Falcon, raising concerns about maritime safety and watchkeeping standards.

The vessels, both of which departed from ports in Sweden the previous day en route to the UK and the Netherlands, collided about 12 nautical miles north-west of Thyborøn, Denmark.

The collision occurred when Happy Falcon, experiencing a technical fault in its main engine, came to a stop and began drifting without displaying the required 'vessel not under command' signals. Scot Explorer, maintaining its course and speed, failed to observe the slowing gas carrier. Despite a last-minute attempt to manoeuvre, a collision ensued, resulting in hull damage to both vessels above the waterline.

Fortunately, no injuries were reported on either vessel, and there was no pollution. The preliminary assessment by the Maritime Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) identified multiple factors contributing to the collision, including ineffective lookout, communication failures, navigational distractions, and equipment mismanagement.

Following the incident, Intrada Ships Management Ltd, responsible for Scot Explorer, and Navigator Gas Ship Management (Denmark) ApS, the manager of Happy Falcon, have undertaken internal investigations. Intrada Ships Management Ltd issued a safety bulletin, reiterated safety expectations to its masters, and MAIB has recommended that the company improve watchkeeping standards. Navigator Gas Ship Management has scheduled refresher courses, updated safety management systems, and disseminated safety bulletins to its fleet.