Crew ignored mayday calls and altered documents


The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has published its report into an incident last year when a bulk carrier ran down a fishing boat and failed to respond to its distress calls.

It found that the ship’s crew altered the black box recorder and destroyed documents in order to evade responsibility for the incident.

The crabbing vessel Etoile des Ondes left Weymouth in December last year, and was 15 miles north of the Cherbourg Peninsula when she was run down by the 87,052-tonne bulk carrier Alam Pintar.

One crewman was drowned, while the three others managed to make it to a liferaft, and were eventually rescued with severe hypothermia by the ferry Norman Voyager.

The MAIB report found that the master of Alam Pintar, which was on its way from Quebec to Hamburg, was told by one of his officers that the ship had “possibly” collided with a fishing vessel.

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Alam Pintar bridge was manned by an inexperienced officer of the watch (OOW) and a cadet, in contravention of the company’s orders and Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) requirements to; post a qualified lookout. The OOW had seen the fishing vessel, visually and by; radar, and assessed there was a risk of collision, but the actions he took were; insubstantial and rendered ineffective by Etoile des Ondes changing course; while tending to her pots.

Both the carrier’s master and OOW were aware of the collision, but they failed to stop, failed to make any attempt to confirm if; Etoile des Ondes and her crew were safe, and failed to report the incident.

More worryingly, the report, which can be found in full at, said: ‘There is evidence to suggest that the crew of Alam Pintar subsequently attempted to alter recorded contemporaneous data to mask the vessel’s involvement in the accident.

It also criticised the “poor lookout” on the crabbing boat and the actions of the other vessels in the area, who also failed to respond to the mayday call.