S1510-09-Commodore Clipper Andrew Cooke

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch has published the findings of an investigation into the grounding and flooding of the Condor ferry Commodore Clipper (above) in Guernsey last year. The ferry from Portsmouth grounded on a charted, rocky shoal in the approaches to St Peter Port, Guernsey in July 2015.


The grounding caused a noisy, shuddering vibration that reverberated throughout the ship, but the crew did not check for damage, no report was made and no safety announcements were made to the passengers. Once in St Peter Port, the vessel unloaded and reloaded as planned. It was only on a preplanned diver’s inspection that damage, including breaches of the hull resulting in flooding of double-bottom void spaces, was found and the Commodore Clipper promptly removed from service.

The investigation also found that the crew refused to acknowledge that the ship might have grounded, partly because the alarms that could have alerted them had been disabled. The report continued that insufficient passage planning meant that the bridge team headed into danger without appreciation of the navigational risk.


The planning issues not properly considered were: the very low tide, the effect of the ship ‘squatting’ in shallow water at high speed and the accuracy of the chart data. Condor Ferries said that it entirely accepted the findings of the detailed and thorough report which concurred with the company’s own investigation.


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