Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Silversea's Prince Albert II Impounded For Unsafe Operations

If there is one thing Iamboatman cannot tolerate it is operating a passenger vessel in an unsafe manner.  Yesterday the MCA (Maritime and Coastguard Agency of the UK) impounded Silversea Cruises Prince Albert II for two reasons:  Overloading and apparently senior officers not receiving enough rest time.

Overloading a ship is in excusable...and, frankly, hard to do.  It means that too many supplies were added to the ship so that the water level was over the "loadline"; which is a funny sort of symbol on the side of the ship that identifies where the water level can be with the ship remaining stable.  (How you establish a loadline is rather complicated, however.)  The officers should know what the weight of the provisions and supplies being brought on and should also be monitoring the water level versus the loadline...which is why it is there in the first place.

So the Silversea officers not only allowed the excessive weight to be onloaded, they were willing to pull away from the dock knowing or being ignorant of the unlawful and unsafe condition.  That does not make me happy!

But to make matters possibly worse, the log books showed that Silversea (through its management agent, V. Ships) was not providing the senior officers with sufficient rest.  While this was eventually resolved as being a record keeping error, I pause and ask, "How is it that a group of seasoned mariners would not know how to properly enter the information?  It is not like this is a new or different system."

But more importantly, it sounds to me like two potentially serious safety violations may indicate that there are other issues as well.

In the meantime, sufficient supplies were removed and the records "corrected", so Prince Albert II is back at sea.  But knowing the MCA, I am confident it will be watching this ship with a sharp eye.