Swanland sinking 'avoidable'

An accident report into the sinking of the Swanland found it was heavily overloaded when it sank. and the who incident could have been avoided. Six crew members died when the cargo vessel sank off the north Wales coast in November 2011.

Report: Swanland sinking 'could have been avoided'

A report into the sinking of a cargo ship off the Lleyn peninsula with the loss of six lives has revealed the tragedy could have been avoided.

The Swanland sank in 2011 after suffering a "catastrophic structural failure" Accident investigators say it had been weaked by corrosion and hadn't been properly maintained.

The vessel had been sailing from a jetty at Llanddulas near Old Colwyn, as David Wood reports.

Lack of repairs contributed to sinking

The MAIB report said the way of the cargo was loaded, putting pressure on the midships section, and lack of repairs in recent years contributed to the vessel's structural failure.

Other contributing factors included:

  • non-compliance with international maritime code
  • lack of effective safety management
  • financial pressures of operating the vessel in economic downturn
  • safety issues concerning immersion suits and life jackets on the vessel.

The report found that the Swanland's crew did not regularly conduct "abandon ship" drills. The bodies of ship master Yury Shmelev, chief engineer Geeadiy Meshkov, second engineer Mikhail Starchevoy, and Able Seamen Sergey Kharchenko and Oleg Andriets were lost at sea.

Second Officer Roman Savin and Able Seaman Vitaly Karpenko were airlifted to safety by an RAF helicopter. Chief Officer Leonid Safonov's body was recovered.

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Cargo ship 'overloaded' when it sank

The Swanland sank 17 minutes after leaving Llanddulas in rough seas and gale force winds Credit: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

An accident investigation report has concluded that the sinking of the Swanland cargo ship off the north Wales coast in 2011 could have been avoided.

Six crew members were killed when the vessel sank in November 2011.

A Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) report found several issues with the Swanland, which was carrying nearly 3,000 tonnes of limestone when it suffered a "structural failure" just 17 minutes after leaving Llanddulas for the Isle of Wight.

A MAIB spokesperson said: "This was a tragic and avoidable accident that cost the lives of six crew.

"Worldwide, between 2002 and 2011, nearly 250 cargo vessels foundered causing the deaths of more than 800 seafarers - statistics that bring into sharp focus the need for action to be taken to improve the safety of general cargo vessels."